Highway Patrol: Wind gusts a factor in fatality crash between two semis

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 1/13/2014

Gusting winds are believed to have been the cause of a fatal crash between two tractor-trailers that left one driver dead on Sunday, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.

Cody Smith, 53, of Fairview, Utah, died after his westbound International tractor collided with an empty oil tanker heading east on U.S. 40 east of Myton, according to patrol Lt. Jeff Chugg.

Smith’s vehicle hit the rear axle and trailer after the trailer drifted into his lane, according to Chugg.

The crash was so loud a crew working on an oil drilling rig near the highway heard it and called dispatchers to report it, Chugg said.

Smith was taken to Uintah Basin Medical Center in critical condition. He was later flown to the University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City, where he died of his injuries.

The driver of the other truck, 34-year-old Jared Morgan, was uninjured, Chugg said.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but Chugg said weather may have been a factor because the road was slick and the area was being buffeted by wind gusts of 30 to 35 miles per hour.

"(This area) can get some crosswinds,” he said. “This was higher than what we would normally see in that area.”

Morgan was making a return trip after hauling a load of crude oil to a refinery in Salt Lake City, approximately 140 miles away. Chugg said Morgan was about three miles away from his destination when the crash occurred.

The speed limit on U.S. 40 in that area is 65 miles per hour. Chugg said he doesn’t believe either driver was exceeding the posted speed limit. He also said Smith was wearing a seatbelt.

“(Smith’s tractor) actually kind of drifted to the right and stopped approximately 150 feet from the impact area,” he said. “He suffered two broken femurs, a head injury and a torn aorta (from the force of the crash).”

According to Chugg, Smith owned his vehicle but was leased to Iowa Tank Lines. Morgan works for Holly Transportation.

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