ST. GEORGE – Three Sevier County residents were killed and a Richfield orthodontist remains in the hospital after a car accident in Waikato, New Zealand, Tuesday. The four were on vacation when the collision occurred.
Mitch Peterson and Ruth Peterson, of Monroe, and Tammy Barnett, of Richfield, were killed when the SUV they were traveling in collided with an oncoming semitractor-trailer, according to a report published by The New Zealand Herald.
Barnett’s husband, Richard Barnett, the driver of the vehicle, was taken to a nearby hospital following the accident. He sustained two fractured ribs and had general aches and pains, Gary Hatch, Richard Barnett’s brother-in-law and a spokesman for the Barnett family, said.
“He was (seated) opposite of where the major impact took place,” Hatch said.
Richard Barnett is an orthodontist with a practice in Richfield. Mitch Peterson was an optometrist also working in Richfield. The two men and their wives were vacationing together and planning to embark on a cruise scheduled to depart from New Zealand.
“They’d planned it for a few years, to go on vacation together,” Hatch said.
The intersection where the collision occurred is known to be “kind of a rough” intersection and is at the crest of a hill, Hatch said. The SUV was reportedly turning when the truck came over the hill and the two vehicles collided.
Richard Barnett was listed as being in stable condition as of Wednesday afternoon, and Hatch said he was anticipating possibly being released from the hospital sometime Wednesday night.
The funerals for the Petersons and Tammy Barnett will take place in Utah. Hatch said he’s not sure when Tammy Barnett’s body will be released so it can be transported home.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to benefit the Barnett family. Those wishing to contribute can visit the link here.
“We just appreciate everybody’s love and concern,” Hatch said.
Ed. note 10 p.m.: The videocast accompanying this report misidentified Richard Barnett’s occupation on first publication; the report was suspended for about one hour to correct the voiceover.
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