UPDATE: East Idaho reserve police officer injured in fiery crash
*******UPDATE: 7/27/2017, 3:15 p.m.*******
Police say the victim in an explosive crash on U.S. Highway 89/91 in Wellsville on Wednesday afternoon has been identified as William Gray, a reserve police officer for the Rigby Police Department.
Gray was transporting a heavy load of sand from one Staker-Parson facility to another Wednesday when a Brigham City man crashed into his semi truck at high speed, with an impact that caused an explosion and ignited both trucks.
When Gray’s truck finally come to a stop north of the impact point, he was able to exit the truck on his own, although he was in flames.
A Utah Highway Patrol trooper on scene coaxed him away from the truck and used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. Gray was transported to Logan Regional Hospital by ambulance and later flown to the University of Utah Burn Center.
The driver of the pickup truck has been identified as 26-year-old Marcos Torres of Brigham City. Jensen said circumstances leading up to the crash remain under investigation.
One man is dead and another is hospitalized at the University of Utah Burn Center in Salt Lake City after a fiery crash Wednesday afternoon that closed U.S. Highway 89/91 in Wellsville, Utah into the evening.
Wellsville is located southeast of Logan in northern Utah.
According to Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Lee Perry, a trooper was attempting to make a traffic stop at about 1:30 p.m. when the driver of that vehicle fled and then crossed over into oncoming traffic, hitting a semi truck head-on.
A short time prior to the crash, dispatchers broadcast an attempt-to-locate for the driver of a northbound pickup that was reportedly driving recklessly as it traveled from Sardine Canyon toward Logan.
Meanwhile, four local troopers had just left the Mendon Cemetery, where they had gone to a funeral to pay their respects to a former trooper. They all responded toward Wellsville when the ATL came out, Perry said.
The driver of the truck reportedly turned around near the American West Heritage Center and made a stop at the Welcome Mart at State Road 101, Perry said.
One of the troopers spotted the vehicle as it re-entered U.S. 89/91 and continued southbound.
The trooper attempted to make a stop and moments later said he was in pursuit of the vehicle, approaching the park and ride on the south end of Wellsville. He asked dispatchers to notify Box Elder County law enforcement.
Twenty seconds later, the trooper called for fire and medical.
“He just went head-on with a semi,” the trooper told dispatchers.
Todd Black of Hyrum was seconds behind the incident and said he did not see the impact, but he saw the vehicles “blowing up,” and he saw the driver of the semi-truck emerge from the truck in flames.
One of the troopers on scene assisted the semi driver and extinguished the fire, quite possibly saving the man’s life, Perry said.
The semi driver is reportedly a firefighter from Idaho who was driving truck for a day, hauling sand product from a Staker-Parson location in Brigham City to another site in Smithfield.
He was transported by ambulance to Logan Regional Hospital and later flown to Salt Lake City.
His condition is undisclosed.
The driver of the Chevrolet Silverado died on impact, Perry said.
As a result of the crash, north and southbound traffic was diverted through Wellsville onto State Roads 23 and 101, causing significant traffic delays throughout the afternoon.
Because the troopers were involved in the incident, Perry said Logan City Police responded to the scene to conduct the investigation, with assistance from the Utah State Fire Marshal’s Office.
A Department of Public Safety helicopter landed on the highway near the crash site at about 4 p.m. to deliver a critical piece of equipment that allows investigators to capture 3D images used to reconstruct the crash scene.
Perry said he expected the highway to be closed until about 7 p.m. while the investigation was completed and debris was cleared from the roadway.
The investigation is expected to continue for a few days as officers review dash cam footage and interview everyone involved.