On Tuesday, a dump truck filled with gravel lost its brakes on Marsac Avenue as it was coming down Ontario Canyon south of Park City. It was by all measures a harrowing event that resulted in limited injuries to the truck driver and the driver of the Dodge Pickup truck that was hit. We have reported on the accident and a video of the racing truck can be seen on KPCW.org. Park City Municipal has safety systems in place that help prevent this sort of accident from happening more frequently. Carolyn Murray has this:
It’s rare for vehicles to lose their brakes on the steep Ontario Mine section of 224. When it happens, Park City Police Department’s Operations Captain, Andrew Leatham, says the run-away vehicles are meant to use the emergency truck ramp located south of the intersection with Hillside Avenue and before the road narrows into the Marsac neighborhood just above the Deer Valley round-about.
“The gravel on those ramps is very deep in order to slow that large of a vehicle down. It takes heavy wrecker machinery to get the trucks out of the gravel once they do take the runaway truck ramp. Whenever it happens, we are aware of it. It’s pretty infrequent. I am really only remembering just one or two occasions in the last five or six years.”
Leatham said he doesn’t know why the truck driver didn’t use the ramp. Utah Highway Patrol is responsible for the investigation because 224 is a state highway. UHP has a senior trooper who is a Certified Vehicle Inspector, a CVI, assigned to Park City. One of Park City’s police officers is in training to become a CVI.
“We’ve recently sent one of our officers through commercial vehicle inspection training. It was a three-week course. It’s a strenuous course where they meet federal commercial standards for vehicle inspection. So, our officer has completed the basic part of that course. It does have a second component which is for him to do a real-world inspection of vehicles along with a senior person which is the trooper which is Trooper Beverage that we work with on a daily basis.”
Leatham said the city is actively involved in vehicle stops and inspections. He said Park City Municipal is looking into buying scales and other inspection equipment.
“Many years ago, where we’d have like four and five and six reserve officers out working at the same time. Maybe it was a little more visibly apparent that we were out there doing this. We haven’t had those kind of operations. It’s just something we kind of do with our traffic unit working with the troopers.
Leatham said they’ll work closely with Park City and Utah Highway Patrol to identify what went wrong.
“It might have been on a state highway but it’s running right through the middle of Park City and right through several pedestrian crossings and the buses coming out of the transit centers. These accidents don’t happen all the time. They have happened over time. I’ve been in and around Park City as a law enforcement officer since the early ninety’s and I remember these happening back then. They don’t happen frequently, but they do happen. We’ll take a good hard look at this one. You know, we’ll see if there’s anything we could do better as a city or as a law enforcement agency to prevent this.”
Currently, there is no UDOT brake check requirement for vehicles traveling down from Empire Pass. UHP Lieutenant Randy Richey said they still don’t know why the driver missed the truck run away ramp. He said the preliminary investigation shows the brakes were adjusted in accordance with the law and were in working order. They didn’t find any malfunction in the brake system, but it is still being investigated. If the driver is found to be at fault, he will be cited.
“What’s legally required is the Trucking Companies are required to legally maintain their vehicles, obviously, in accordance with law. As far as that particular area, there’s not any type of brake check area. Usually they put in brake check areas that have a high volume of truck traffic and typically….I mean there are a lot of dump trucks, no doubt about it, in that area. But, usually you’re talking interstates and places like that.”
Richey said both drivers of the two vehicles involved, had minor injuries and were taken to the hospital but according to reports, they were not admitted.