A semitrailer destroyed a motel sign on State Route 36 in Lake Point this morning, injuring the driver of the vehicle.
The driver of the semitrailer had just fueled up at the Flying J gas station and turned onto SR-36 from Saddleback Boulevard when he claimed he lost consciousness, according to Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Chad McCoy.
“From evidence we can see his truck drifted off to the side, went off the road and struck the hotel sign,” McCoy said.
After striking the Oquirrh Motor Inn Motel sign, which collapsed in the impact, the cab of the semitrailer started to smoke and caught fire, McCoy said. The driver was helped out of the truck by Jeff Hicken, who works maintenance at the hotel, and Tooele County Sheriff Deputy Brandon Roberts.
Hicken said he was going to fix a sprinkler when he heard the boom of the collision between the truck and sign. When he approached the truck to see if he could help, Hicken said he could still see the driver inside.
“It started getting smoky in the cab so I started to pull on the doors and stuff to get some air in there,” Hicken said. “Someone gave me a hammer and I smashed the back window. He started crawling toward the window so I helped him out.”
Hicken said he believed the driver may have had a broken leg and the entire process of removing him from the semitrailer took a few minutes.
The driver was the only person involved in the single-vehicle accident, which occurred around 11:20 a.m. According to McCoy, the driver was conscious and transported by helicopter to the University of Utah Hospital.
Oquirrh Motor Inn Motel owner Traci Nelson said she’s glad that no one was more seriously injured in the accident. The loss of the sign could have a serious negative impact on the inn’s business, she said.
“It’s going to disrupt our business because the majority of our business is off the highway,” Nelson said. “Losing a sign is a big impact to us. It’s not like a new one will be up tomorrow.”
Nelson said she plans to install a new sign to replace the one destroyed in the accident.