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Valentine's Day Collision on U.S. 6 Claims Life Of Ogden Truck Driver

Staff reporter

A semi tractor that was hauling a trailer with rebar sits amongst frozen prepared dinners that were ripped out of the reefer trailer behind it during an accident that occurred just west of Soldiers Summit on Friday afternoon. The driver of the flatbed was killed in the accident.

An early afternoon accident near Soldier Summit on Valentines Day claimed the life of an Ogden truck driver traveling eastbound in a flatbed tractor trailer rig hauling rebar.

The accident, which occurred at 12:15 p.m. on Feb. 14, did not close the canyon highway, even though the crash blocked the eastbound lanes. However, law enforcement authorities considered closing traffic on U.S. Highway 6 at least one way for a while after the accident.

The fatal collision reportedly occurred when a reefer semi-truck, filled with frozen prepared meals bound for grocery store shelves, came around the corner west of the Soldiers Summit gas station.

The westbound truck apparently tipped over onto its side and slid into the oncoming traffic lane. The flatbed driven by James Howard Orton, age 50 of Weber County, reportedly ran directly into the trailer of the reefer truck.

The force of the impact tore the side of trailer out, scattering the frozen dinners along the roadway as well as down the hillside below the highway.

The accident tore the side out of the flatbeds tractor and it took emergency crews some time to extract Orton from the cab.

"It appears excessive speed probably had something to do with this accident," indicated Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Al Christensen at the scene of the fatal collision.

The accident occurred close to the summit, slightly across the Wasatch County line, and authorities from both sides of the mountain came to the scene. Authorities arriving at the collision site included UHP troopers and deputies from the Utah County Sheriff's Office.

The main rescue crew came from Helper along with a Carbon County ambulance. Spanish Fork rescue personnel also were on the scene.

Once extracted from the wreckage, the injuries to Orton were so extreme that it was determined that Life Flight needed to be called to transport the truck driver to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.

Orton was placed inside the Carbon County ambulance until the emergency helicopter landed across the highway from the service station. However, the victim was pronounced dead shortly after the flight crew arrived at the site.

The fatal traffic accident attracted the attention of the upstate media, with a Fox 13 cameraman on the scene and the KSL Channel 5 helicopter hovering overhead taking video of the scene.

The impact of the collision not only scattered the contents of the reefer along the highway, but also sent rebar flying forward and off the flatbed trailer. The tipped vehicle was almost interlocked with the flatbed, forcing the highway patrolmen and rescue personnel to climb over and under the flatbed in order to access to the driver's compartment.

The big rigs had to be pulled apart, with the reefer truck being dragged on its side across the highway by a large wrecker before the vehicle could be righted. The driver of the westbound truck was not identified and reportedly only received minor injuries.

The investigation into the accident is continuing.

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