Three people were killed and five more were injured in Stansbury Park Sunday afternoon after a church group’s van crossed the median and ran into another vehicle head-on.
At about 3:15 p.m. near Stansbury Parkway, a Dodge Caravan carrying five teenagers and two adults from Dugway Proving Ground, moved from the outside lane to the inside lane of northbound state Route 36 and struck a Mitsubishi Montero SUV with the left rear corner of the van, said Lt. Corey Nye of the Utah Highway Patrol.
The impact caused the van to spin sideways across the median and into southbound traffic, where the van was hit by a Subaru Legacy, Nye said.
The driver of the Subaru, Melodie Clement, 58, and her passenger, Urban “James” Montoya, 61, both of Salt Lake, were killed.
The front seat passenger of the Caravan, Donnett McCollin, 43, of Dugway, was also killed. Nye said Clement, Montoya and McCollin were all wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash, but the impact was too severe to be negated by the life-saving device. The reported circumstances of the crash also made it difficult for any evasive action by either party, he said.
“It was a violent impact. It was one of the harder hits I’ve seen,” said Nye. “There was not a lot of time for any kind of movement or action. It was a hard hit.”
Four of the five teens were ejected from the van, he said, while one remained inside the vehicle. They were taken by ambulance to Mountain West Medical Center and Salt Lake hospitals in serious condition, while the driver of the Caravan, 44-year-old Kevin McCollin of Dugway, was taken by medical helicopter to a Salt Lake hospital and remains in critical condition. Nye said the injured were also from Dugway.
The driver of the Mitsubishi was not further involved in the crash and suffered no injuries from the incident. No citations have been issued.
The highway was closed for almost five hours as traffic was diverted onto the frontage road near the state Route 138 junction until about 8 p.m., Nye said.
“We funneled everybody past the bank there on the frontage road west of [SR-] 36 and they were able to travel past the crash scene,” he said. “Traffic wasn’t really an issue. It flowed pretty good.”
Nye said while investigators are still gathering statements, it is currently believed that the five teenagers ejected were not wearing seatbelts, and the one who was not ejected was wearing a seatbelt. Why the van changed lanes and how the initial impact came to be is still unknown, he said. The investigation has been turned over to the Utah State Bureau of Investigations.
According to information from Dugway Proving Ground, the van was one of four Dugway vehicles going to a Christian rock concert. The trip to the Rock and Worship Roadshow at the Maverik Center was sponsored by a nondenominational church group from the Dugway Hope Chapel.
“This is a tragic event that touches many lives beyond those directly involved in the accident,” said Dugway Commander Col. Ronald Fizer in a statement. “Dugway Proving Ground is working together with others to provide support to those affected. We will keep all those involved in our thoughts and prayers.”
A candlelight vigil for the people killed or injured in the fatal crash by Stansbury Park Sunday will be held tonight at the Dugway Hope Chapel at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact the chapel at (435) 831-2431.