A fiery crash on I-15 near Point of the Mountain claimed the life of one man, left a newlywed couple with injuries and backed up freeway traffic for hours Tuesday afternoon.
Thad F. Goodman, 28, Taylorsville.
Goodman was driving northbound on I-15 about 1 p.m. when his car, for an unknown reason, went into the southbound lanes and collided head-on with a sports-utility vehicle, Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Chris Kramer said.
Goodman's car burst into flames. He was dead at the scene, Kramer said.
The two occupants of the SUV, newlyweds Tara and Joshua Berend of Colorado, were transported to University Hospital.
The wife, who was driving, was airlifted in critical condition and remained critical Tuesday night, a hospital spokesman said. The husband was originally listed in serious condition when transported by ground ambulance, Kramer said, but was released from the hospital Tuesday night.
The couple likely was saved by the efforts of passers-by who stopped at the crash scene to help, Kramer added. Among them was Linden Curry, who was hauling two trailers to Beaver for Turner Gas.
Curry parked his truck when he saw 15-foot flames rising from the car. The fire from the car then ignited the SUV, the 50-year-old Roy resident said.
Curry was carrying two chemical fire extinguishers, one in each trailer. He tossed one of them to another person who emptied it on the SUV, he said.
Curry ran back to his truck to grab the other extinguisher, which he used on Goodman's car.
A group of about eight people, including police officers, used their own extinguishers to help battle the blaze in Goodman's car, Curry said.
Curry said he was happy and surprised the couple inside the SUV survived. He said he has helped many stranded motorists and accident victims in his 23 years as a professional truck driver, but this was the first time he used a fire extinguisher in an emergency.
"We go through safety programs all the time," he said. "I just did it without really thinking about what to do or what not to do."
Another person at the scene also was being credited with helping to save the couple. That man bumped his pickup against the SUV, pushing it away from the burning car, Kramer said.
The northbound lanes of I-15 were shut down for 90 minutes, and the southbound lanes were closed for three hours, Kramer said.
In the moments after the accident, broadcast reports indicated as many as four people had died. Kramer said there was confusion because the car was engulfed in flames.
"Some witnesses said they saw multiple people in there," Kramer said.
Investigators will try to determine why Goodman's car went into the opposing lanes of traffic."The officer in charge mentioned to me sometimes we never learn why it happened," Kramer said. "The car is a burned wreck. The driver is dead. We may never know why."
E-mail: [email protected]