Triple fatal in San Juan County brings death toll to 6 killed on Utah’s roadways in single day

A stock image shows a Utah Highway Patrol vehicle on a highway in Southern Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Three Blanding men were killed in a single-vehicle rollover on state Route 276 near Lake Powell Wednesday night, which was possibly set in motion when the driver swerved to avoid a cow in the road, the second triple fatal reported in less than nine hours.

Map of state Route 276 in San Juan County with red pin depicting area near mile marker 83 where three Blandon men died in a rollover, San Juan County, Utah, July 1, 2020 | Image courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

Just before 11 p.m., officers and emergency personnel were dispatched to a single-vehicle rollover on southbound SR-276 near milepost 83 in San Juan County involving a Toyota Tacoma, according to a statement released Thursday by the Utah Highway Patrol.

All three occupants were killed in the crash, including the driver, 32-year-old Wayne C. Palmer, as well as the two passengers, Kyle R. Bailey and Parker W. Palmer, both 30. All three men were from Blanding, Utah.

Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Nick Street told St. George News the men were heading to Lake Powell for a fishing trip when the rollover took place and were near the state Route 86 exchange, which is an access highway to the lake.

“Everyone in that SUV was killed — just like that,” he said.

At the time of the crash, the Toyota was heading south on SR-276 when the driver swerved to the right, causing the pickup to continue off the shoulder. When he over-corrected to the left, the vehicle returned to the highway where it crossed over the median and rolled multiple times until it went off the northbound shoulder and came to rest.

More than 20 police units and multiple fire trucks, ambulances and responders are dispatched to three-vehicle crash on state Route 18 near mile marker 9, Washington County, Utah, July 1, 2020 | File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

“Speed is believed to be a contributing factor for this crash,” the statement said.

Authorities have reason to believe that another factor may have played a role in the crash: the spot the Toyota was traveling through — an open-range area where cattle are commonly seen near the roadway. In fact, there were a number of cows standing near the roadway when emergency vehicles arrived, according to the statement.

“The driver may have swerved to avoid a collision with a cow,” UHP says.

All told, six people lost their lives on Utah’s highways Wednesday.

Nine hours earlier, in Washington County, a three-vehicle crash took the lives of three people when a Cadillac SUV crossed over into oncoming traffic, striking a Ford that was sent crashing into the median. The SUV continued across the northbound lane where it struck a Nissan, killing the couple inside. The driver of the Cadillac was also killed, while the woman driving the Ford was flown to the hospital in serious condition.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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