Student helps injured man after chase
May 20, 2008
A man died Sunday after he led officers on a chase in Parleys Canyon that ended when he slammed into a fuel tanker in his Subaru, the authorities said.
Deputies pursued the man because he fit the description of a suspect in a fraud case reported in the Snyderville Basin at 2:40 p.m., Summit County Sheriff’s Office Detective Cpl. Josh Wall said.
He identified the man who died at the scene as 57-year-old Douglas E. Cottrell of the Wasatch Front.
Cottrell had fled in his car from officers on westbound Interstate 80 near Kimball Junction and sped up when he reached Parleys Summit, investigators say.
The man traveled up and down the freeway by crossing the median between the summit and Lambs Canyon, Wall said, adding that he lost control of the car when deputies tried to spike Cottrell’s tires near Parleys Summit.
"The vehicle spun around and traveled westbound in the eastbound lanes for a short distance before hitting a Summit County Sheriff’s Office vehicle head on," a prepared statement from the Sheriff’s Office states.
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Cottrell crossed the median again and drove westbound before crossing the median and slamming a fuel tanker, which leaked ethylene onto the freeway, Wall said.
Eastbound Interstate 80 was closed until after midnight as the spill was cleaned up. One lane on the westbound side of the freeway opened at about 6:30 p.m.
The truck driver was not injured and the deputy whose vehicle was struck suffered injuries to his shoulder and arm, Wall said.
Park City resident Cameron Digman, 16, was driving up Parleys Canyon at the time of the crash when water exploded from a radiator onto a man’s face on the side of the road.
"His car was overheating and the radiator just threw burning hot water on him," Digman said in a telephone interview. "My cell phone was actually dead so I pulled this lady over and I took her cell phone and called 9-1-1."
Digman described the chaotic scene on eastbound Interstate 80 near Lambs Canyon that included "people panicking and a lot of hysteria."
"Traffic suddenly came to a halt and you could see traffic all the way past Lambs Canyon," he said.
"I saw all these cars going on the sides of the road, heading down the road, driving the complete opposite direction," Digman said about the tie-up. "They were going over grass and four-wheeling it. People were driving off the hillside to get onto westbound."
Meanwhile, he helped treat the severe burns the hot water caused to the 64-year-old man’s face and left arm.
"Cameron poured water over the guy and took care of him," said the boy’s mother, Tisha Digman. "With as much negativity as you hear about high school students, I was pretty proud of my son for being so level headed."
Cameron chalked up the experience to being "just the right person at the right time."
"I stayed on line for about 10 minutes until the paramedics actually arrived," the boy said. "I had to sit him down and keep him calm. I told him it would be OK and that the ambulance was on the way."
Digman doesn’t know the man’s name but paramedics told him he would recover from the burns.
Nobody was hurt by the ethylene that spilled onto the road, Park City Fire Battalion Chief Steve Zwirn said.
The spill occurred about a half-mile west of Parleys Summit, Zwirn explained, adding that the tanker contained about 7,000 gallons of combustible liquid.
"Less than a gallon escaped the entire time we were there," Zwirn said.