PROVO Canyon driving is not the same as freeway driving.
That's the message highway officials want people to realize after Wednesday's fatal crash on U.S. 189 in Provo Canyon that sent two adults and three children in one car to the hospital, and killed the driver of the other car.
"Canyons by their nature are narrower than a freeway," said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Brett Christensen. "Winding canyon roads are not as forgiving if you make an error."
Officials believe, pending test results, that driver error might be the reason Scott Ross, 32, crossed over the center line into the path of a westbound sport utility vehicle just after 10 a.m.
The impact sent the SUV rolling, where it landed on its roof in the grassy shoulder, and pushed the car's engine into the driver's area, shattering the back window and leaving the front windshield smashed.
Ross was killed instantly and the five passengers in the SUV two adults, two children and an infant were taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center with nonlife-threatening injuries ranging from bumps and bruises to cuts and scrapes, with one broken leg, Christensen said.
Skid marks were visible on the road, which was also littered with plastic and metal debris from the vehicles. The accident occurred directly to the side of Bridal Veil Falls.
Ross' family in Arizona was notified of his death Wednesday evening by police. Christensen said Ross had been living in Utah County for some time, but didn't know exactly how long. This is the third fatal accident on U.S. 189 in less than two months.
On May 18, 7-year-old Daniel and 8-year-old Jennifer Lopez were killed when the car they were riding in turned left out of Vivian Park and was broadsided by a truck. Just a few weeks later, on June 6, Brigham Young University track start Chelsi Petersen was killed when the car she was riding in turned left off U.S. 189 toward Squaw Peak Road, in front of an oncoming car.
Despite the tragedies, officials say Provo Canyon is not more dangerous than any other canyon."As canyon roads go, this is actually quite safe," Christensen said, pointing out the wide lanes and emergency lanes. However, because it's a canyon, drivers need to be more careful and understand it's not a freeway with continuous middle barriers, Christensen said.
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