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Petition seeks additional vehicle restrictions on SR 39 in wake of fatal accident

By Rob Nielsen - | Jul 9, 2024

Photo supplied, Utah Highway Patrol

A petition is circulating calling for potential restrictions on certain vehicle traffic in Ogden Canyon following a fatal accident that occurred Saturday, July 6, 2024.

OGDEN -- There are calls for changes in the wake of a fatal accident in Ogden Canyon.

Following the July 6 crash that claimed the lives of Lifetime Products CEO Richard Hendrickson and his daughter Sally and injured three other family members on state Route 39 through Ogden Canyon, a change.org petition titled "Regulate Type Of Vehicles Allowed On Highway 39 Through Ogden Canyon" had gained momentum.

"With the canyon passage offering little to no shoulder width in places, certain large vehicles pose a substantial risk to commuters' safety," part of the petition's description reads. "Therefore, we are raising this petition to enforce regulation on the types of vehicles permitted on Highway 39 that transverses the heart of Ogden Canyon. There is an urgent need to limit the particular categories of vehicles that can drive through this constricted roadway, ensuring the security of all who rely on it."

As of 5:30 p.m. Monday, the petition had accumulated 1,552 signatures. The petition is directed at the Weber County Commission, Ogden City Council and Utah Department of Transportation.

Todd Caron, who started the petition, said concerns have long predated Saturday's fatal accident.

"We created the petition to draw attention to the hazardous driving conditions associated with Ogden Canyon," he told the Standard-Examiner in an email Monday. "Over the last several years, traffic, and especially heavy commercial and industrial traffic has increased exponentially along this road. The incident on Saturday was a stark wake up call to what has been an ongoing and dangerous evolving situation."

He added that he's had several encounters with large vehicle traffic that had trouble navigating the canyon.

"It is not uncommon to encounter large vehicles to include semi tractors and trailers as well heavy equipment haulers and tandem dump trucks," he said. "These vehicles in part due to their length and width are often unable to remain in their lanes of traffic and encroach on the oncoming traffic lane crossing the center line. I myself have had multiple such experiences."

Caron said he knows there's a lot to consider, but public safety is paramount.

"We understand there are commercial considerations to be considered, namely the additional time and cost to transport via Trappers Loop, however the risk to public safety is real and we as residents in the area wish to have this situation reviewed and if possible remedied," he said.

UDOT Senior Communications Manager Mitchell Shaw told the Standard-Examiner that all state roads have some restrictions on them, with Ogden Canyon already having a few additional rules imposed. "The State of Utah currently has size and weight restrictions on state roads," he said. "In terms of Ogden Canyon specifically, the size of trucks are already limited in the canyon to single units. Because of state laws, trucks are unable to be completely restricted from the canyon."

He added that UDOT is waiting for the Utah Highway Patrol to finish its investigation into the accident before assessing any changes to vehicle traffic in the canyon.

"UHP is still investigating Saturday's fatal crash, so we don't know exactly what all the contributing factors were," he said. "Once the UHP review is complete, UDOT will conduct a thorough review of the crash and see if there is anything we can do from an engineering standpoint to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. But again, what that means exactly, we won't know until the UHP investigation is complete and after we've conducted a thorough review."

According to the UHP's website, the accident occurred around 12:49 p.m. Saturday when a tow truck carrying a mini bulldozer was traveling eastbound on S.R. 39.

"The vehicle was negotiating a right-hand curve when the bulldozer broke free, sliding off the driver's side," the report said. "A GMC pickup was traveling westbound towing a boat. The bulldozer landed on the GMC pickup."

The accident remains under investigation.

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