LOGAN — Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Cade Brenchley knew he had just been hit. But it wasn't until he saw the dashcam video recorded from his own patrol car that he realized just how bad it was.
"After watching this video, I think you can see I'm extremely grateful to be alive and here talking to you. It was not my favorite day," he said Tuesday.
The Utah Department of Public Safety released dramatic video showing Brenchley being hit from behind by a car sliding out of control on a snowy highway, knocking him high into the air and tossing his body into another vehicle that had also slid off the road.
As the video was released, Brenchley recounted what happened that day from Logan Regional Hospital, and made a plea for motorists to slow down and pay attention to their surroundings.
"I remember thinking to myself, 'I've been hit. I've just been hit. Holy crap,'" he said.
Sunday, Brenchley was checking on a vehicle that slid off the road on state Route 91 in Sardine Canyon during a snowstorm. There were several crashes in the canyon during that time due to slick and snowpacked roads.
In the video, Brenchley is hit just five seconds after stepping out of his car and coming into view of his vehicle's camera.
"That's about the last thing I remember. Then I remember everything was black. It felt like a weird dream. I felt some sort of impact and I was kind of coming around. Like I said, it felt like a dream and I started wondering what was going on. At that point I woke up and saw snow," he recalled.
Brenchley suffered four broken ribs and a broken shoulder blade on his rear, right side where he was hit by the car, and road rash on the side of his face where he landed, he said.
"It's miraculous, though, that this is all I have considering what we saw," said Brenchley who has watched the video several times. "I truly believe miracles do happen."
Brenchley, a second-generation trooper who has been with UHP for 13 years, said three of the paramedics who responded to the scene are his cousins and the others were childhood friends. He said he was happy to see them.
Despite being injured, Brenchley said he actually had to try and console the driver who hit him — a college-age woman who was in "hysterics" and repeatedly apologized.
"She's not to be vilified. She did make a mistake, and I think she's learned from it," he said. "She won't make that mistake again, I'm fairly certain."
While he was on the ground, he said he also thought about trooper Eric Ellsworth, 31, of Brigham City, who was hit by a car and killed in 2016 while trying to direct other vehicles around a traffic hazard near Garland, Box Elder County, as well as Ellsworth's wife.
Brenchley said being hit while on duty is something his wife worries about constantly.
"Could have taken me away from my kids. And, you know what? We watched the video and it probably should have. It took my friend Eric's life. I don't think there's any doubt it should have taken mine. But lucky for me I have a brother in heaven who is watching my back."
The Brenchleys have three daughters and a son, and are a self-described "close" family. Lindsay Brenchley, Cade's wife, said an officer came to her door to tell her about the accident.
"I didn't know what to do with myself. I couldn't believe that it was true," she said.
At that point, the children gathered in the hallway to say a prayer and their mother went to the hospital, actually arriving there before her husband did.
Lindsay Brenchley has only seen the video once.
"Once is enough," she said. "I don't like watching him fly through the air like that."
Her children made comments like, "It's a miracle that he's still alive" and "Unreal" when watching the video.8 comments on this story
The Brenchley family is also known for having a sense of humor. One daughter pointed out that her father managed to pull off a heel click while in the air. The humor of Brenchley's children doesn't fall very far from the tree. When UHP Lt. Lee Perry asked Brenchley that night if there was anything he could do, Brenchley asked him to finish a paper for his masters class that was due that night.
Brenchley is expected to make a full recovery. And while both he and his wife are thankful that the injuries weren't more serious, they say the video is a stark reminder of why motorists need to slow down.
"When there's snow on the road, you just need to check your ego and slow down. Be patient. Be courteous," Cade Brenchley said. "There's more at stake than just driving down the road. There are people with families. We're all trying to get home."
Contributing: Mike Anderson