GPS nearly leads trucker over a cliff and into Utah canyon

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Friday, September 13, 2013

A truck driver nearly took a spill down the banks of a canyon outside the Greater Salt Lake area, after his GPS led him into a series of switchbacks. Police and county workers had to use a front-end loader to lift the trailer in order for the truck to negotiate the curves.

The incident occurred on Monday, Sept. 9, and shut down the Butterfield Canyon road for more than six hours, as crews worked to assist the big rig to the top of the canyon. There, the driver was finally able to turn around, before heading back down.

The driver, whose information was not available for release from the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake, was not injured, according to police Lt. Justin Hoyal.

Hoyal said the driver was hauling a flatbed trailer full of fencing supplies to a business located near the mouth of Butterfield Canyon.

“Apparently the GPS told him the business was a little ways up the canyon,” Hoyal said in an interview with Land Line on Friday. “It’s a very narrow, windy canyon. It’s difficult for a car to turn around in at times, let alone a semi.”

Hoyal said the driver eventually came to a hairpin turn with a steep drop of roughly 100 feet, at which point he stopped and called police.

“He ultimately got to a point where he was just stuck,” he said. “He came within inches (of the precipice). He was on a turn that was within inches of going off that edge, just because of the tightness of that canyon.”

Hoyal said the canyon road is only open during the summer season, and most traffic is residential. This was the first time he was aware of that a tractor-trailer had become stuck on the turns.

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