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, Utah Highway Patrol
Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Chris Dunn was hit while working a vehicle accident up Parley's Canyon Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012.

SALT LAKE CITY — A veteran Utah Highway Patrol trooper had four fingers reattached to his hand following 10 hours of surgery.

Sgt. Chris Dunn, 47, came out of surgery about 11 p.m. Wednesday. His four fingers on his left hand were severed and he suffered damage to his forearm after being sideswiped by a vehicle while investigating a separate accident.

Surgeons were able to reattach his fingers, UHP Cpl. Todd Johnson said. It will be several days, however, before doctors will know how much Dunn will be able to use his hand.

Dunn was alert and talking with friends and family members following the surgery Wednesday night, Johnson said. "He was very thankful for everyone who provided assistance."

The incident began just before 6:30 a.m. Wednesday when a slow-moving semitrailer going east on I-80 was rear-ended by a van near the Lambs Canyon exit. There were no life-threatening injuries in that accident.

While investigating, Dunn went to retrieve a measuring device from his car and was leaning in on the driver's side, bracing himself with the door, when he was hit by a utility truck, Johnson said. Dunn's arm "took the full force of the impact."

His arm and hand got caught between the trooper's car door and the car itself, said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal.

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The driver of the truck, Michael J. Pomee, 21, of West Valley City, was having trouble shifting gears and looked down as he attempted to shift, veering off to the right in the process and sideswiping Dunn with the bed of his truck, Hoyal said.

Dunn is a 14-year veteran with the Utah Highway Patrol. He is the fifth UHP trooper to be hit by a vehicle so far this year, Johnson said.

Hoyal said the accident likely could have been much worse had traffic not been slowed a bit by the earlier crash.

"The bright spot in all this is Sgt. Dunn is still with us, but he's got a long recovery ahead of him," Johnson said. "This is a crash and an injury that should not have happened."