Two Truck Drivers Killed in Fiery I-80 Crashby Jana Ritter - Published: 10/19/2016
A fiery, fatal crash involving two semi-trucks on Interstate 80 near Skull Valley, Utah has taken the lives of two people. The tragic incident occurred early Wednesday morning near mile marker 77 and shut down a seven-mile stretch of I-80 near Grantsville in both directions for over six hours. The Utah Department of Transportation last reported that an eastbound lane re-opened shortly after 10 a.m., but westbound lanes may remain closed most of the day.
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According to the Utah Highway Patrol, the accident occurred at about 3 am on Wednesday morning when a semi-truck hauling a military vehicle was heading eastbound and crashed into the median just west of Grantsville. While it has still not been determined what caused the driver to lose control of the truck, the military vehicle broke free from the flatbed and rolled into the westbound lanes. An oncoming FedEx semi-truck heading west was unable to avoid crashing into the military vehicle and burst into flames. Police say that the co-driver of the FedEx truck and the driver of the flatbed semi were killed instantly. The driver of the FedEx truck survived but was seriously injured and taken to a nearby hospital.
"Shortly after 3 am we had a commercial vehicle heading eastbound on Interstate 80, this vehicle is a flat bed configuration and on it was a four axel military vehicle," said Lt. Shawn Jude of Utah Highway Patrol. Investigators said it’s too early in the investigation to determine what exactly led to the truck rolling into the median but they know that the impact caused the military vehicle it was carrying to fall off the landing and roll onto the west bound lanes of I-80. "We then had a FedEx truck that was heading westbound on Interstate 80 that was hauling double trailers and that FedEx truck impacted with that military vehicle," confirmed Lt. Jude. It was also determined that the FedEx truck hit the passenger side of the vehicle and burst into flames, immediately engulfing the entire cab of the truck and charring everything inside. "The cab of the tractor is very burned and the trailers have lost most of their integrity due to the fire and also the crash," Lt. Jude added. It took nearly three hours for fire crews to extinguish the fire inside the FedEx truck.
Investigators believe there was no way the FedEx driver could have avoided the crash because of the dark road conditions and it’s a miracle that he survived.
"The driver of the FedEx truck was transported by ground to the hospital. I'm not sure of the extent of his injuries but he was able to talk to the investigating trooper on scene," said Jude.
Jim Johnson is a fellow truck driver who came upon the crash site 30 minutes after it happened. He says that in over 20 years on the job, this is the worst crash he has ever seen. He believes that speed, distracted or drowsy driving may have been what caused the horrific accident. "It just gets to ya, you know. It's just sad. Just keep it safe out there and watch what you're doing," Johnson said.