|Emergency personnel focus on clearing damaged vehicles, large pipe and debris from U.S. Highway 6 following a traffic accident on New Years Eve. The mishap involved four vehicles, including a tractor-trailer hauling the pipe. Two people were transported to the hospital for treatment of injuries incurred in the Dec. 31 mishap.|
A four-vehicle mishap on New Years Eve spread steel pipe across U.S. Highway 6 and caused one car to fly off a 40-foot cliff, landing on the Union Pacific Railroad tracks a short distance up Price Canyon.
The accident occurred Dec. 31 at 12:43 p.m. at mile marker 229.
According to the Utah Highway Patrol, Robert Toler, age 50 of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was reportedly traveling eastbound in a Freightliner hauling steel pipe when truck driver came around a corner and the load shifted.
The weight of the load purportedly caused the truck to tip onto its side and slide into the oncoming lane of traffic.
At that point, a Dodge Stratus driven by William Thomas, 38 of West Jordan swerved to avoid the tipped semi and the pipe spilling on the road.
In the process of averting a collision, the Stratus went over the embankment and landed on its top on the railroad tracks.
At that point, a Ford F-350 operated by Randy Nelson, 50 of West Valley, reportedly collided with the pipe-hauling truck and its load.
The force of the impact twisted the Ford pickup around into the back of the semi's trailer.
A second pickup driven by Chad Carlson, 26 of Salt Lake, also hit the semi, but went off the road on the cliff side of the highway with only minor damage.
The accident blocked all the lanes of travel on U.S. 6 and vehicles backed up in both directions for about an hour while emergency personnel extracted victims and tow trucks cleared the roadway.
At the scene, Nelson appeared to have shoulder and chest injuries, while Thomas reportedly incurred head, neck and knee injuries when his vehicle went down the cliff and onto the railroad tracks.
Both victims were transported to Castleview Hospital for medical treatment.
The mishap was initially reported as a fatal accident, primarily because the first witnesses at the scene could not see any movement from the Thomas vehicle.
However, when law enforcement officers arrived at the scene, the officers found Thomas crawling out of the wreckage.
"I told him that he should probably stay in it until we could extract him, but he wanted to get out of the car," said Helper Police Chief George Zamantakis at the scene. "I asked him if there was anyone else in the car, but he was somewhat confused, probably due to the trip down the cliff."
All occupants traveling inside the four vehicles involved in the mishap were wearing seatbelt restraints.
At press time, the accident was still under investigation and no citations had been issued.