8 Are Killed as Sandstorm in Utah Causes a Highway Pileup

Officials said 22 vehicles were involved in a crash after high winds created a sandstorm that limited visibility on Interstate 15. Some of the fatalities were children, the highway patrol said.,


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At least eight people, some of them children, were killed and several others were injured when a sandstorm that blinded drivers led to a pileup in southwestern Utah, state officials said on Monday.

The Utah Highway Patrol said it appeared that 22 vehicles were involved in the crash on Sunday afternoon “after high winds caused a sand or dust storm and impaired visibility on the roadway.”

“No one could see, so people started stopping, and then you just get a chain reaction,” Trooper Andrew Battenfield, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol, said late Sunday night. “Nobody could see, and then all of a sudden, you’re slamming into a car,” he said. “It’s just a horrific situation.”

Five of the eight people killed in the crash were traveling in one vehicle, the highway patrol said on Monday. Two of the others who were killed were in another vehicle and the eighth person who died was in a third vehicle, the patrol said.

Ten people were taken to local hospitals, and three of them were in critical condition, officials said.

The crash, which happened around 5 p.m. local time, prompted the closure of parts of Interstate 15 in Millard County, between Salt Lake City and St. George. The Highway Patrol said the road would be closed in the area for a “significant time.”

The names and ages of the victims were not immediately available.

Trooper Battenfield said a “microburst of wind in an area that didn’t have a lot of vegetation” kick-started the crash.


The crash happened around 5 p.m. on Interstate 15 in Utah.Credit…Utah Highway Patrol

Photos shared by the Highway Patrol appeared to show the wreckage of a vehicle pinned beneath a tractor-trailer. Another image showed a red vehicle that had been severed by a different tractor-trailer.

About an hour before the crash, a severe thunderstorm in Parowan, Utah, about 90 miles southwest of the crash, was stirring up dust and dirt, according to the National Weather Service office in Salt Lake City.

At the time, Parowan was under a severe thunderstorm warning, and the Weather Service said winds of up to 60 miles per hour were possible.

It was unclear whether the storm in Parowan was connected to the sandstorm in Millard County.

Dust storms are not uncommon in Utah, having occurred as recently as June and April in the state. A recent study published by Brigham Young University found that, in the north-central part of the state, 90 percent of urban dust comes from dry lake beds.

Christine Hauser contributed reporting.

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