Big Cottonwood Crash Sends Vehicles into River, Strands Hundreds of Motorists

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah. — Around 2 p.m. Sunday, a collision on the S-curve section of Big Cottonwood Canyon sent a pickup truck over a steep 75-foot embankment into the river below. Three occupants of another car involved, a Subaru, climbed out of their car, but a woman in the truck was trapped upside down in the creek and had to be rescued using the jaws of life.

Dashcam video of the accident shared on KSL showed the truck losing control as it headed downhill, crossing into the oncoming lane and sliding off the side of the road, taking the Subaru with it.

Big Cottonwood Canyon Rescue on Sunday afternoon.
Big Cottonwood Canyon rescue Sunday afternoon. Photo: UDOT Cottonwood Canyon – Twitter: @udotcottonwoods

The United Fire Authority participated in what battalion chief Brian Anderson described as a complex and risky rescue, KSL reported. The woman was taken to a hospital, and her condition was unknown Tuesday.

The accident snarled traffic for hours as people left, or tried to leave, crowded resorts farther up the canyon.

Parkite Chris Wavle was skiing at Brighton resort with his fiancée Jessica VanderMeyden Sunday. They were told the crash would clear at 3:30 p.m. that afternoon, so they got into their car at 3:45 p.m., then found themselves stuck in the parking lot until 8:35 p.m. They got back to Park City at 10:15 p.m.

“The road scares me as UDOT doesn’t ever enforce their traction law,” said Wavle, who travels up the canyon a few times a week to ski. “My car has snow tires and if I knew everyone else was prepared it would be a lot less scary.”

When traveling anywhere in winter, drivers should be prepared for all scenarios. Having supplies of water and food and a full tank of gas in case of delays due to traffic is key. Wavle said he’s been stuck in the canyon for two or three hours before, but never six. He also said people were walking to the Brighton cafe to buy drinks and snacks, but those who already began their descent through the canyon that afternoon were gridlocked without any resources.

KSL Utah reported on the incident, airing a video of the crash (below).

Twitter comments reveal travelers were upset with responders for removing the vehicles instead of letting the cars trapped in the canyon down first:

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