SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Highway Patrol is urging motorists to slow down and move over when approaching an accident in light of four crashes in three days in which troopers were either hit or nearly hit.
The latest incident happened early Sunday morning, on 1-15 near 2500 South in Salt Lake County. A trooper was parked on the right side of the freeway, when a second vehicle lost control and slid into the patrol car. Neither the trooper or the other driver were seriously injured.
"If troopers are out there they are going to be exposed because they are usually outside of their vehicles," said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Jacob Cox.
Cox said so far this year, 13 incidents have happened, resulting in injuries to three of the troopers that were serious enough to require medical attention.
On Saturday, I-80 was particularly dangerous for troopers, with near-misses happening mid-morning at the exit to Tooele City on snowy roads, and a second incident occurring about seven miles east of there in Salt Lake County that evening.
In both of those crashes, the troopers were out of their car investigating a single vehicle crash caused by slick conditions. And, in both of those crashes, another approaching vehicle traveling too fast went out of control and slammed into the troopers' patrol cars.
"If one vehicle has lost control, it is probably because the road conditions are poor and everyone else in the area should reduce their speed and slow down," Cox said.
In Friday's accident on I-70 near mile marker 15 in Clear Creek Canyon, the circumstances were nearly the same. The trooper had pulled over to assist with a crash when a second vehicle lost control on the slick road, and slammed into the back of his patrol car. The trooper was still in the car, however, when it was hit from behind. He and the driver suffered minor injuries.
Three of the troopers involved in the weekend incidents are veterans of the agency with 14 years on the job. The trooper involved in Sunday's incident has only been with the UHP for about four months, although he has been in law enforcement for eight years, Cox said.
For the day of Feb. 9, the following are the number of incidents that UHP responded to along the Wasatch Front:
Salt Lake County:
61 reportable property damage crashes (at least $1,500 in damage)
14 personal injury crashes
46 reported vehicles that slid off the roadway
19 reportable property damage crashes
1 personal injury crash
14 reported vehicles that slid off the roadway
27 reportable property damage crashes
2 personal injury crashes
27 reported vehicles that slid off the roadway
Contributing: McKenzie Romero, Jasen Lee