Geoff Liesik, Deseret News
Utah Highway Patrol troopers investigate a crash Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, that killed Monte S. Mitchell. Troopers are trying to determine whether Mitchell, 36, intentionally veered into the path of a tractor-trailer truck on U.S. 40 near 4625 East in Jensen, Uintah County. Two law enforcement sources say the Vernal man had recently become the subject of a police investigation.

JENSEN, Uintah County — The Utah Highway Patrol is trying to determine whether a Vernal man who died after driving into the front of a tractor-trailer truck was suicidal.

Witnesses told investigators that just before 1 p.m. Monday, Monte S. Mitchell appeared to turn his car directly into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer truck as it slowed to turn from U.S. 40 onto 4625 East, according to UHP Lt. Jeff Chugg.

Mitchell, 36, died at the scene after his car struck the front wheels of the tractor. The driver of the truck and his passenger were not injured, Chugg said. The lieutenant did not release their names.

Traffic on U.S. 40 was detoured around the crash for at least two hours while troopers investigated the scene and crews worked to clear the wreckage.

Troopers are trying to figure out if Mitchell intentionally caused the crash to end his life, Chugg said.

"We may never know," the lieutenant said, "but we're looking into several things that we're aware of, some phone calls that have been made, some other information that we're exploring, to verify whether it was or wasn't intentional."

Two law enforcement sources, speaking to the Deseret News on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Mitchell had recently become the subject of a police investigation. Neither source would discuss the nature of the probe.

— Geoff Liesik