OREM, Utah, Jan. 13, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Officials have identified a man who was critically injured late Friday night when the Subaru Forester he was driving against traffic on Interstate 15 slammed into a pickup truck late Friday night.
The Utah Highway Patrol has identified the driver as Dayton Smith, 21, of Orem. UHP officials believe Smith was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, and troopers found an open container of alcohol in the wreckage. Charges are pending.
Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Matthew Miller said Smith’s green Forester was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes when it crashed into the black pickup truck near Mile Marker 270.
Smith was transported to a local hospital with what Miller said were critical injuries, but is expected to survive.
After being extracated, the driver of the pickup was able to walk out and went to the hospital in a vehicle driven by a family member.
The drivers were the only people involved.
Miller said it wasn’t exactly a head-on crash, “not a direct hit,” and the Subaru took the brunt of the impact.
He said the mass of the pickup probably absorbed a lot of the energy of the crash, saving the truck’s driver from more serious injury.
“We got calls after it happened,” Miller said. “A trooper happened to be right near the spot northbound and came across (the scene) within seconds.”
No one called to report the wrong-way driver, so officials aren’t sure how long the Subaru was in the northbound lanes, but they don’t think it could have been very long.
Miller said the car was going down the center lane, dodging other vehicles.
“He passed quite a few people,” Miller said. “It’s lucky more people didn’t get hit.”
“We always tell people to look ahead (when they’re driving), but it’s incredibly difficult to predict and prepare for something like this,” he added.
The crash occurred at about 11 p.m. Investigators were still on scene hours later and were just reopening the northbound lanes.
There was debris and fluid from the vehicles covering all lanes except the HOV lane requiring all but the HOV to be closed as troopers cleared debris. A UDOT street sweeper responded to clear the remaining lanes.