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Woman hurt, but lucky after an SUV slides off Big Cottonwood Canyon into river

One elderly woman was hurt, two others were OK after their SUV slide into a river up Big Cottonwood Canyon. Photo courtesy of KSL 5

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON– It was a scary drive for an elderly couple during heavy snowfall through Big Cottonwood Canyon Wednesday afternoon.

Unified police reported the crash around 4:45 p.m., involving a car that slid off the road into the river near milepost 8 in Big Cottonwood Canyon. An elderly couple and their adult son were occupants of the car and none were seriously injured.

Fortunately, officers say the three were lucky that the car landed on all four tires. Six units from Unified Fire responded, including a heavy rescue crew who performed an intricate rope rescue.  The couple’s son was driving a Tahoe, 4-wheel drive. The elderly woman passenger was taken by ambulance to the hospital, suffering back and neck pain, but was expected to be OK.  The Tahoe was pulled out of the river by a tow truck.

Investigators say the 4-wheel drive full-size SUV did not have the right tires on.  UDOT and UPD put the Traction law into effect Wednesday morning because of severe weather. The law requires a certain kind of tire or traction equipment, even if you have all-wheel or 4wd.  Traction devices are required for all vehicles traveling on SR-190 in Big Cottonwood Canyon & on SR-210 in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

According to the U-DOT website, when the Traction Law is in effect for state routes, the following traction devices are acceptable:

Two wheel drive vehicles with 3PMFS tires, chains, or snow socks on drive wheels.
4X4/AWD vehicles with M/S or M + S snow tires.
Semis with chains or snow socks on drive wheels.

Snow was falling in the canyon pretty hard late Wednesday afternoon. The accident was just one of many traffic problems, including slide-offs and crashes in the midst of a mid-week snowstorm.  UHP responded to 50 slide-offs and crashes on Wednesday.