Man drives off cliff on Guardsman Pass |

Man drives off cliff on Guardsman Pass

Bob Lloyd, The Park Record

A 57-year-old man apparently blinded by the bright sun drove off a cliff to his death at the highest point of Guardsman Pass early Friday.

Witnesses driving eastbound just behind the man told Wasatch Sheriff investigators that they saw the man’s pickup truck wander near the edge at about 6:50 a.m. before it plummeted down the 500-yard drop.

"When they came up over the top of the mountain, they said the sun was blinding to them," said Jared Rigby, Wasatch County undersheriff. "They could barely see.

"This vehicle that went over the edge was in front of them and they felt like that driver was probably blinded also because he just kept getting closer and closer to the edge and then finally went over."

The man, whose name was being held until sheriffs reach his relatives, was thrown from his truck about halfway down the drop, Rigby said. Those in the car behind him and bicyclists hiked down the slope to where they found the man still breathing.

Rigby said the man stopped breathing shortly after the witnesses reached him.

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"(It) took them some time to get there. They tried to render aid to him but ultimately it was unsuccessful," he said.

Emergency workers from the Unified Fire Authority and Unified police in Salt Lake County were the first responders. Eventually, search and rescue workers from Wasatch County as well as the sheriff’s department joined them, lifting the man’s body back to the road.

The operation took three hours, Rigby said.

"It’s quite a drop. This had happened at the steepest point," he said.

The man was driving from Salt Lake County and apparently bound for Park City. Rigby said his office had yet to discover why he was traveling the pass or headed to Summit County.

The accident occurred on Guardsman Pass at the point where Summit, Wasatch and Salt Lake counties meet. The road, open only seasonally during the year, connects Park City with Big Cottonwood Canyon.

There are no guard rails to act as barriers at the accident’s site, even though posts mark the roadway.

That section of the road is seeing more traffic and activity, Rigby said. No serious accident has occurred there for the past 10-15 years, but he said the entire area has seen more vehicles. The recent Tour of Utah race including an entourage of support vehicles used the road.

"It seems to be a safe one, but it is a steep one. It’s being used more and more," he said.