Eight people died in a series of crashes in Millard County, Utah on Sunday because an unusual sandstorm restricted the visibility of drivers. Five of the eight victims were in the same car. The other two were in another vehicle, and one was killed in a third automobile. The Utah Highway Patrol said Monday four of the dead were adults, and four were under 15 years of age.
On Monday, the five people in the same car were identified as 6-year-old Riggins Sawyer; Frankie Sawyer, 2; Kortni Sawyer, 30-year-old, all residents of St. George; 37-year-old Race Sawyer and her 12-year-old son Ryder Sawyer is a resident of Lehi. According to UHP, Race Sawyer has also been identified as Kortni Sawyer’s brother-in-law. The two persons who died in the second car were identified as 51-year-old Richard Lorenzon and 47-year-old Maricela Lorenzon, both from Salt Lake City.
The person killed in the third vehicle was identified as 15-year-old Cameron Valentine from Yuma, Arizona. Another 10 people were injured and taken to the hospital. At least 3 of them are reported to be in critical condition.
Race Sawyer’s sister Shannon Mortenson told KSL on Monday about her lost family. She said she is “grateful for the time we did get to spend with them.”
“My brother Race is the most entertaining person to be around, always silly, always teasing you, always keeping things fun. And Kortni is the best mom that I know — just great with her kids and always a joy to be around,” she said.
Mortenson remembers that 2-year-old Frankie was “cherished in our family.” Ryder is remembered by his aunt as a performer and a “captivating person.” He added that Riggins has just started to participate in “all sorts of sports that he could and really excelling with it.”
Kortni Sawyer’s 3-year-old son Blue was also involved in the accident but survived. According to the GoFundMe account created for the family, he was taken to the Junior Children’s Hospital, where he was treated and later discharged.
Officials said that a total of 22 vehicles were involved in the accident after the sandstorm caused by high winds and affected the visibility of the highway. The accident occurred at about 4:30 pm on the southbound driveway between Fillmore and Kanosh in Millard County.
Agents said on Monday that they believed the highway was blocked by a minor collision at first. While trying to park for these accidents, a semi-trailer was believed to have rear-ended a pickup truck.
“The most significant crashes happened behind the semi with two vehicles becoming wedged underneath the back of the trailer. They appear to have been hit from behind by another pickup. Another vehicle appears to have sideswiped the semitrailer, as well,” troopers said.
After the accident, soldiers from Richfield and Beaver responded and offered help. Several ambulances and medical helicopters also rushed to the scene.