Tragic accident a somber reminder to stay safe on roads
May 26, 2015
The warnings were posted statewide — on local TV stations, radio spots, in newspapers and on social media. But apparently, in Summit County, they fell on deaf ears.
According to the Utah Highway Patrol, Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of "the 100 deadliest days" on local highways. The treacherous travel season lasts through Labor Day as visitors from all over the world join local residents in making the most of their summer vacations.
Tragically, those warnings were fulfilled on Saturday morning when a bus carrying students from a private school in Oakley turned in front of a motorcycle on State Road 32. The rider, a local volunteer firefighter who grew up in Park City, was critically injured and remains hospitalized. The bus driver was cited for failing to yield to the motorcyclist.
Elsewhere in the state there were two fatal accidents, underscoring the UHP’s well-publicized concerns.
Every summer, Summit County residents brace themselves for driving challenges equal to, or even more difficult than, snowstorms. There are the relentless flurries of orange roadwork cones and the season-long onslaught of horse trailers and oversized. Adding to the chaos are cyclists and runners, often traveling in herds competing against one another and against regular drivers for a slice of two-lane blacktop.
Last fall we heaved a sigh of relief as the shoulders along State Roads 224, 248 and 32 finally gave way to snowdrifts and restless residents traded their bikes for skis and snowboards. It was a remarkably accident-free 100 days, especially considering the uptick in events and visitors. We dared to hope this summer would be as carefree.
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The scenic highways and byways along the Wasatch Back are especially vulnerable to the multi-use pressures of people trying to pack as much as possible into the lengthening days. Many popular routes have no shoulders and there are plenty of distractions, both outside and inside of the vehicles — moose, bears, livestock and cell phones, to name a few.
In Peoa a momentary lapse of attention has derailed an idealistic young firefighter’s career and caused his family enormous heartache. It is safe to assume it was traumatic for the bus driver and the students on the bus too.
There are about 96 days still left before summer is over. With a little extra care on the highways we can ensure they will be filled with happy adventures instead of tragic ones.
The family of Jeremy Morgan, the firefighter injured in Saturday’s accident, has set up a website to update friends and family about his condition and to contribute to his medical expenses. The address is: http://www.youcaring.com/jeremy-morgan-359196#