Local emergency services were praised for their quick and expert response after two violent automobile crashes took place on Aug. 21 and Aug. 22.
The incidents both took place on Moab’s Main Street, known as U.S. Highway 191 outside of city limits.
CRASH FOLLOWING POLICE PURSUIT
On Aug. 21, Grand County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call reporting a driver who had intentionally rammed another vehicle, according to a statement released to the press. A description of the vehicle was reported and local law enforcement was notified to be on the lookout.
A Grand County deputy spotted the vehicle on Highway 191 and attempted to pull the car over. The suspect driver ignored the emergency lights and siren and continued south along 191 with officers in pursuit.
After a chase of approximately three miles, the suspect vehicle crossed the median line into oncoming traffic and collided with a northbound semi-truck, according to reports.
Grand County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) released a statement pointing out the high level of inter-agency collaboration following the collision.
“A lot of individuals, all playing small parts but working together, saved a life,” the organization said on their official Facebook page.
Reports from the scene indicate that the car’s driver was ejected from the vehicle. Grand County EMS statements indicate that the first responders to the scene applied tourniquets as a life-saving measure.
Moab Valley Fire Department Chief T.J. Brewer was on his way to a scheduled fire training exercise at the Grand County Middle School when he passed by the scene of the accident, according to Grand County EMS.
The chief stopped to provide aid, driving an ambulance to Moab Regional Hospital so that three emergency personnel could provide dedicated care to the suspect driver, who was seriously injured in the crash. The injured driver was treated by the Moab Regional Hospital emergency department and surgical team before being airlifted to definitive care by Classic Air Medical.
The driver of the suspect's vehicle received critical injuries from the accident but survived. The driver of the semi-truck was not seriously injured, according to reports from the scene.
The Utah Highway Patrol is investigating the incident.
PEDESTRIAN CRASH CLAIMS TWO LIVES
The following day, the Moab City Police Department responded to another traffic accident on Moab’s Main Street.
Two people were struck by a vehicle on the evening of Aug. 22 while crossing outside a crosswalk, the department reported.
Police officials say that the couple was attempting to cross Main Street when they were struck by a southbound vehicle. Reports from the scene say the driver pulled over to wait for investigators and did not appear to be traveling above the posted speed limit of 35 mph.
First responders were called to the scene a little after 9 p.m. but determined that both victims were deceased.
The Moab City Police Department is not identifying the victims as of Aug. 27, as the incident is still an active investigation.
“Units from the Moab Valley Fire Department, Grand County EMS, Utah Highway Patrol and the Utah Department of Transportation assisted and were instrumental in providing resources that were critical to the accident investigation,” said Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge in a statement.
“This is a tragic accident and our thoughts are with those involved and the families of the deceased,” he said.
CONCERNS ABOUT MAIN STREET TRAFFIC
Traffic on Moab’s Main Street has often been a topic of discussion in recent years.
Highway 191, the region’s main highway, runs through the center of town and carries commercial semi-trucks, recreational vehicles, passenger cars, ATVs, and neighborhood traffic combined.
Several traffic proposals have been debated by local city and county governments, from those to ease traffic congestion around the entry to Arches National Park to the hotly debated plan for a highway bypass avoiding the center of town.
Change can’t happen too soon for some residents and visitors.
“I grew up in Moab and visit at least once a year,” said Marilyn Kerr Jones in a comment on the Moab Sun News Facebook page.
“Driving on the main drag is frightening to say the least...I seriously have never been so frightened driving in a long time and I live in a big city,” she commented, “I hope some kind of planning is in the works.”
Moab Police Chief Bret Edge appeared before the Moab City Council on Aug. 27 to address the accidents.
“Last week was a very difficult one for our agency,” he said. “Officers performed absolutely flawlessly in very difficult situations that I'm extremely proud of all of them. That said, we are also working on a program to offer them the support that they need following critical incidents.”
Chief Edge also said the department plans on addressing jaywalking on major streets as an issue in the community.
“With last week's incident, it's no longer on the back burner,” he said. “We are going to be doing education and enforcement as much as we possibly can, having officers on Main Street to contact with people who are walking outside of the crosswalks and educating them about the dangers.”
“And at some point we will also start issuing citations,” Chief Edge said, “and hopefully we can avoid another incident like last week.”