SALT LAKE CITY — For the second day in a row, Thursday was a dangerous day for first responders in Utah, due mostly to drivers not minding the slick driving conditions.
Late Thursday evening, a Draper fire battalion chief was injured while he was responding to a crash and another vehicle spun out and hit him, troopers said.
The accident occurred about 8 p.m. after a trooper called for backup on a two-car crash in the southbound lanes of I-15 at 14600 South near the Bluffdale exit, the Utah Highway Patrol said.
One crashed car was on the right shoulder and the other was by the median. The battalion chief arrived to help move the vehicle by the median to the right shoulder, troopers said.
While the battalion chief was checking on people inside the car, another car on the freeway lost control and hit the battalion chief, pinning him to the car that was already crashed at the median, troopers said.
He was flown to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray. His condition was originally reported as critical, but late Thursday night officials said his condition was upgraded to stable and that he was up and talking.
Troopers said speed was believed to be a factor in the crash.
"The roadways tonight have been very slick across the whole county. We had that little bit of weather that came through and made the roadways wet, and then they turned to ice. And so with people's speed being up, that has definitely been a factor in the majority of all these crashes that we've had this evening," UHP Lt. Wade Breur said.
"We need people to slow down. When the weather rolls in, please take the time to just slow down, pay attention to your driving. Don't be distracted. And try to reduce your speeds regarding the conditions that are on the road," he said.
Breur said the driver of the vehicle that hit the firefighter was cooperating with investigators.
By evening, troopers responded to at least 154 other crashes across Utah.
In light of those crashes, the UHP also reminded motorists to move over for emergency vehicles, and to move off the freeway to a safe location if involved in a minor fender-bender accident.
Also among Thursday's accidents, a 16-car pileup happened during the afternoon commute on eastbound state Route 201 before 3200 West near West Valley City, shutting down the road, UHP officials said.
In Salt Lake and Utah counties alone by late morning, UHP troopers were called to a total of 95 incidents, which included reportable crashes, non-reportable crashes and slide-offs. A reportable crash is defined as one that causes at least $1,500 in damage to a vehicle or causes an injury.
On Thursday, troopers also released the name of a woman killed in a crash near Panguitch.
About 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, a Nissan Altima was attempting to make a U-turn on U.S. 89 when it was T-boned by a Nissan Pathfinder while it was sideways in the road.
Tong Xian He, 72, from Jin Zhong, China, who was in the back seat of the Altima, was killed, according to the UHP. Two other occupants in the Altima were transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in critical conditions.2 comments on this story
While wintry weather has complicated the job of first responders the past few days, troopers could get a brief respite from the slick conditions over the weekend.
KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank said the storm was expected to wind down Thursday night in northern Utah as skies clear and temperatures drop into the teens.
Clouds will build back up Saturday ahead of a smaller storm on Sunday, Eubank said. An inch or two of snow is expected then in the Salt Lake Valley.
Contributing: Andrew Adams, Alex Cabrero