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UDOT and UHP prepping for heavy snowfall

WASATCH FRONT — Both the Utah Highway Patrol and the Utah Department of Transportation are warning drivers about terrible conditions on the roads caused by snowfall lasting through Wednesday morning.  There were deadly crashes and freeway closures even before the bulk of the storm arrived.

The most serious crash happened on S.R. 91 in Richmond.  Investigators say a car slid into the path of a semi and went under its wheels.

(Photo Credit: UHP)

“The driver of the car is in critical condition and was transported to Logan Regional.  The passenger of the car was ejected, an elderly female, and she is now deceased,” according to UHP Sergeant Nick Street.

The victim has been identified as Phyllis B. Belles from Logan.  Street says neither Belles nor the teenage driver were wearing seat belts.

Plus, there was a crash on S.R. 30, which injured a Rich County Sheriff’s deputy.  Street says the trooper was already on the scene of another semi slide-off when another one happened.

“While they were setting up traffic control investigating that, another semi came into the area, too fast for conditions, lost control and hit the deputy standing outside of his vehicle,” he adds.

First responders suspected the deputy had multiple fractures all over his body, but, Street says the only break he had was his elbow, which is a miracle considering how far he was thrown.

Overall, Street says there were 15 crashes in southern Utah involving semis, and another six trailers were in crashes in the northern part of the state.

As bad as the storms got Tuesday morning, it’s nothing compared to what meteorologists are expecting for Wednesday morning.

Officials from UDOT have created a new term to describe the storm moving into the state.  Spokesman John Gleason calls it a “bench special,” since the snowfall on the benches may rival the amount that falls on ski resorts.  So, they’ve focused a lot of their attention on the eastern roads in Salt Lake County.

Gleason says, “Wasatch Boulevard, I-215, Hwy. 89, Parley’s Canyon, Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon, those are going to see significant snowfall over the next 24 to 48 hours.”

The department has $21.4 million to spend for the entire year to plow the roads, and they’ve used about 60 percent of that money already.  However, Gleason says, when it comes to keeping the roads clear, they’ll never really “run out” of money.

“If we have to take money out of other maintenance activities that maybe aren’t as high of a priority, that’s what we’re going to do to make sure our roads are plowed,” he says.