CEDAR CITY — Authorities said a Utah Highway Patrol Trooper had been traveling north on Interstate 15 Tuesday night when he was forced to rear-end a car allegedly stopped in the left-hand lane.
Trooper Scott Mackelprang walked away uninjured from an accident that happened at around 6:35 p.m. after an 18-year-old driver of a 2014 yellow Chevrolet Camaro had reportedly slowed almost to a full stop in the left-hand lane near milepost 67 — the same lane the trooper was traveling, said Sheriff’s Office Lt. Del Schlosser said.
Schlosser said authorities believe the driver was attempting to make a U-turn via the emergency crossover.
At the same time, there was another vehicle in the right-hand lane leaving Mackelprang no other choice but to hit the car in front of him, witnesses said.
“It (the car) was just stopped. It wasn’t moving. It was just stopped,” Valerie Engstrom, a witness to the accident, said. “He (the trooper) didn’t have a choice. We were in the right-hand lane and the Camaro was in front of him. If he had tried to move over he would have hit us.”
Mackelprang is a police K-9 handler and had his dog in the vehicle at the time of the accident. His dog, Hasso, was taken to an area veterinarian for precautionary measures, Schlosser said.
The driver of the Camaro was not treated for any injuries but was transported by a private vehicle to the Cedar City Hospital.
Utah Highway Patrol troopers were on scene; however, due to a conflict of interest the Iron County Sheriff’s Office was called in to conduct an investigation. Sheriff’s deputies arrived on scene shortly after the crash.
Schlosser said no citations will be issued until the investigator has an opportunity to determine what happened by reviewing witness statements and the trooper’s dash-cam.
Under Utah statute, the medians on the freeway are reserved for emergency personnel and tow trucks only.
“It’s dangerous for the general public to use the medians to cross over because they don’t have the warning lights and equipment emergency vehicles have,” he said. “If you need to change directions, please go to the next exit. Don’t use the median; it’s too dangerous.”
Schlosser said a few years ago he responded to a fatal accident just a few miles north of where this accident happened.
Both vehicles suffered major damage requiring them to be towed.
Both drivers were wearing seat belts and the airbag did deploy on Mackelprang’s vehicle, Schlosser said. Alcohol and drugs do not appear to be a factor, he added.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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