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6 die in head-on crash with suspected drunk truck driver

Credit: Utah Highway Patrol.

UPDATE: The truck driver has been identified as Jamie Don McKenzie, 41, of Heber. McKenzie was arrested for investigation of six counts of automobile homicide, two counts of causing serious injuries while driving intoxicated, having an open container in a vehicle, reckless driving, unsafe lane travel and speeding.

Court records indicate that McKenzie’s history of driving intoxicated and driving with open containers dates back 20 years.

HEBER, Utah (AP) — A truck crossed a highway median in Utah and collided with a pickup truck traveling in the opposite direction, killing all six men in the pickup in an accident authorities suspect was caused by alcohol and prescription drugs, state troopers said Saturday.

Another two people were injured in a Jeep when the driver lost control trying to avoid the trucks.

Dallas McCullough, 19, of Salt Lake City saw the dump truck coming right at her Jeep from the median.

“And then I just shut my eyes,” she said a day after Friday’s crash. “Then my mom swerved really hard right down into the (embankment) that was there, the ditch.”

McKenzie missed McCullough and her mom, but another car hit them from behind.

“I literally could not believe it. I thought it was a dream,” McCullough said. “I got out of the car and was covered in blood. I had no idea how we survived it, but we’re really lucky.”

The driver of an eastbound Jeep lost control of her vehicle when she tried to avoid the two trucks and it rolled over and landed upside down, McCullough said.

Both women were taken to a hospital in Park City for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries: a broken nose for the mother, and a fractured hand for McCullough.

The Utah Highway Patrol said investigating officers found prescription pills and open containers of alcohol inside the dump truck after the accident that occurred around noon Friday on a state highway near Heber, about 15 miles south of Park City.

The dump truck driver was treated for minor injuries and booked on suspicion of six counts of automobile homicide, the agency said.

The driver of the pickup truck was identified as 62-year-old Efrain Cardenas, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Patrol Sgt. Lawrence Hopper said Saturday authorities were working to identify the other victims.

“It was one of the most horrific accidents I have ever seen,” he said.

The highway patrol reported that just before the accident another driver had contacted authorities to say that dump truck was driving erratically.

The westbound dump truck then vaulted over the middle barrier and slammed into the driver’s side of the eastbound pickup, police said. Three of the men were thrown out of the vehicle and another three remained inside.

KSL Newsradio’s Peter Samore contributed to this report.