One month after the disastrous multivehicle accidents on I-215 and Redwood Road, Davis County Attorney Mel Wilson said he doesn't anticipate any criminal charges will be filed in connection with the pileups.
Wilson said Monday, however, that he does expect to issue several traffic citations in connection with the Jan. 2 accidents.The five accidents occurred on a fog-shrouded section of the eastbound freeway and on Redwood Road. Fifty-two vehicles were involved, including 10 large trucks. Four people died and two people remain hospitalized.
At the time of the tragedy, UHP and Utah Department of Transportation officials said up to two weeks could be needed to piece together the events leading to the accidents.
Nearly five weeks later, they have not disclosed any new information. They still say the accident was caused by "motorists driving too fast for existing conditions in the dense fog."
But questions persist for several victims who walked away from the crash and believe there was time for the UHP to warn oncoming traffic of the danger ahead.
"As far as I can tell," said one survivor, "my car slid under a truck 45 minutes after the first collision. I was not traveling at excessive speed - when I tried to brake I just slid on ice from cloud seeding.
"There were still cars colliding after me - I don't know why they didn't close the road. And if they were going to allow cars to go through, I don't know why the road wasn't sanded. They knew they were seeding clouds at the airport."
A female passenger in one vehicle said the fog became so thick so fast that there was no time to react. "The fog was just there and every car was hitting other cars and sliding all over the road - there was no way to avoid being involved."
Gary Whitney, spokesman for Utah Department of Public Safety, said there is always something that could be done to prevent any accident.
"The concern of the officers responding to the tragedy was for the injured. There was an atmosphere of panic - unless you were there you cannot imagine what it was like. Yes, if the officers knew they were in an isolated pocket of fog, they could have sent someone out to block the road. They probably didn't know - there were accidents all over the valley - given nature (the fog) and limited manpower, they couldn't have done anything differently.'
UHP Trooper John Cady, the investigating officer, had no comment about what the state could have done to prevent the accidents.
A National Transportation Safety Board team did arrive from Washington, D.C., to investigate the scene, but local officials said their report will not be out for perhaps months.
Lt. Ken Bryan, UHP section commander for Davis County, said the national team only came out to see if there were any similarities between this occurrence and the fog-related multivehicle pileup in Tennessee a few weeks earlier.
Whitney and Bryan both stated they doubt the stretch of I-215 from Redwood Road to the Davis County line will be a recurring hazard. "If it is another Beck Street, we expect citizens to start voicing their concerns. However, there have not been any problems in the past, and we don't foresee it being a problem in the future," Whitney remarked.
Meanwhile, people involved in the accident have been told to file "no fault" claims with their own insurance companies.
Crash victim David Vigil was transferred last week from Lakeview Hospital to the U. Medical Center, where he is in fair but improving condition, according to officials there.
Another victim, Bob Higley, remains in serious but stable condition in the intensive care unit at LDS Hospital, spokesman Craig Rasmussen reported. Others hospitalized by the accident have been discharged.
Of other victims contacted, only one was not still seeking medical help. Many said they are are going to chiropractors and physical therapy for back and neck injuries.
Those who died were Richard D. Wood, 52; Glenda Wood, 80; Ruth S. Owens, 46; and William Boes, 49.