Eight killed on road in western US sandstorm crash

A photo provided by the Utah Highway Patrol shows the wreckage from a pileup on Interstate 15 between Salt Lake City and St. George, Utah, on Sunday afternoon. Image Credit: NYT

Los Angeles: Eight people were killed in a pileup of almost two dozen vehicles after a sandstorm reduced visibility to zero on a busy desert highway in the western US state of Utah, officials said Monday.

Children were among the dead, and several people were taken to local hospitals by ground and air ambulances including at least three in critical condition.

Some 22 vehicles were involved in Sunday’s “series of crashes” around 150 miles south of Salt Lake City, Utah’s public safety department said, with five of those killed sharing a single vehicle.

Video captured by passing motorists showed various trucks, RVs, trailers and cars ground to a halt and surrounded by wreckage scattered across the asphalt.

A red car lay balanced diagonally on two wheels against the back of a truck, its rear section severely crumpled.

“We have vehicles all over. Several vehicles tried to swerve off the roadway. We have vehicles that are flipped on their sides,” Utah Highway Patrol sergeant Cameron Roden told a local CBS affiliate.

“One of the vehicles that was pulling a trailer, the trailer has pretty much completely been destroyed.”

Utah Governor Spencer Cox said he was “stunned and saddened by the horrific accidents.”

Sandstorms are a common occurrence in the largely arid state, with weather forecasts for the region Sunday afternoon warning of “wind gusts in excess of 50 mph” and advising people to “use caution if traveling through this area.”