ST. GEORGE — The names of the occupants killed in the deadly crash on Interstate 15 in Millard County on Sunday were released by the Utah Department of Public Safety.
Updated July 26, 4:30 p.m., Story has been updated with names of the eight killed in Sunday’s crashes.
In a statement updated shortly after 3 p.m. Monday, the names and ages of the five occupants killed in the first vehicle, a Buick, have been identified as follows: The driver, Race Sawyer, 37, of Lehi, and his son, Ryder Sawyer, 12, along with Race Sawyer’s sister-in-law, Kortni Sawyer, 30, and two of her children, Riggins Sawyer, 6, and Frankie Sawyer, 2. All three were residents of St. George, according to the statement.
The two occupants that were killed in the second vehicle, a Hyundai, included the driver, 51-year-old Richard Lorenzon, and the passenger, 47-year-old Maricela Lorenzon, both from Salt Lake City.
The passenger traveling in the third vehicle, a Cadillac, has been identified as 15-year-old Cameron Valentine, of Yuma, Arizona, who was also killed in the crash.
According to investigators, it appears high winds caused a blinding sand or dust storm that impaired visibility along the roadway on I-15 near milepost 152, between the Meadow and Kanosh exits.
Those conditions then led to multiple crashes involving 22 vehicles shortly after 4:30 p.m.
The agency also said in an earlier update that five of the people killed in the crashes were traveling in one vehicle, while two were traveling in a second vehicle, and in the third vehicle was a single occupant who later died from injuries.
Moreover, at least another 10 people were transported to area hospitals with injuries sustained in the crashes.
The crash happened around 4:30 p.m. on Interstate 15 near milepost 152, between the Meadow and Kanosh exits.
According to information posted on behalf of the Sawyer family, the five that were killed in the one vehicle involved a family returning to St. George with two other family members that were traveling to the area from Lehi. The father, Mason Sawyer, was awaiting their arrival when the crash took place.
Sawyer’s wife and two of his children, his 6-year old son, Riggins Sawyer, and his 2-year-old daughter, Frankie Sawyer, were killed in the crash, while his brother, Race Sawyer, who was driving at the time of the incident, was also killed, along with the driver’s young son, Ryder Sawyer, who also died from his injuries.
One son survived the collision and was released from the hospital later that same night.
“We reverently mourn with both of these families and the parents and siblings of all involved as they face this sudden and inconceivable tragedy,” Mark Rueckert said in the post.
Authorities have yet to release the name of all who were killed in the crashes Sunday pending family notifications, which will likely take place Monday afternoon, according to the UHP statement.
During Sunday’s incident, the Utah Highway Patrol summoned troopers from Richfield and Beaver to assist, while the Millard County Sheriff’s Office also assisted, and multiple ground and air ambulances responded to transport the many victims.
As of Monday afternoon, all lanes on I-15 are open for travel.
This report will be updated as additional information becomes available.
The dangers inherent in navigating through dust storms
Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Cameron Roden told St. George News that while driving through a sand or dust storm can be terrifying for any driver, particularly when visibility drops to a point that makes it nearly impossible to see other cars traveling directly in front or to the side of the vehicle, there are steps motorists can take to reduce the risk of being involved in a crash.
The most important tip is to drastically reduce the vehicle’s speed as soon as the amount of dust blowing through the air causes a drop in visibility, he said, which means that motorists are encouraged to slow down as quickly as it is safe to do so, and avoid slamming on the brakes or stopping in the middle of the roadway.
Instead, he said, release the accelerator and then apply the brakes if necessary in order to navigate safely through the blindness that can occur during these types of occurrences.
The slower speed will assist motorists as they are navigating through the storm and will also reduce the amount of damage or degree of injury, since slower speeds also decrease the vehicle’s velocity which in turn reduces the amount of force behind any potential impact if there is one, he said.
If visibility drops to zero, motorists are encouraged to pull off at the next exit if one is available, or pull well off the highway and wait for the dust storm to pass if it is safe to do so.
Keep in mind, Roden said, that other motorists are also in the same storm, so pulling well away from the shoulder and as far from the travel lanes as possible will reduce the risk of being struck by another driver who is also experiencing limited visibility.
“Don’t outdrive your ability to maneuver safely,” Roden said, adding that dust storms should be treated just like fog. “If you can’t see, you need to reduce your speed.”
St. George News Reporter Jeff Richards contributed to this report.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings.
Ed. Note: Information on the Sawyer family was corrected to reflect that three of the family members were residents of St. George, while the two traveling with the family were from Lehi.
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