UHP on the lookout for dangerous roadway debris

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jul 05, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY - As the Utah Highway Patrol increases patrols for the Independence Day weekend, roadway debris is among the safety concerns on their minds.

More than 250 state troopers are working overtime patrol this weekend and removing roadway debris is part of the job. Troopers say on average they handle two or three calls a day.

"It's like Frogger trying to get that stuff off the freeways, it's very dangerous," said UHP Lt. Steve Winward.

Just in Salt Lake and Utah Counties last year, there were nearly 10,500 calls to pick up roadway debris. Since January of this year, troopers have handled more than 5,000 debris calls in those same two counties, so those areas are on their way to repeating last year's statistics despite lawmakers' efforts by increasing fines to $200 for drivers who don't secure their loads.

"What it comes down to is the education of the public. They may pass a bill but no one gives it a second thought until they're actually cited for it, wow those fines are pretty high for not securing your load," said Lt. Winward.

For one Layton family, the dangers of road debris are painfully clear this Fourth of July. For 16-year-old Claire Kenyon's parents, it was the first holiday without their daughter.

Claire was killed in a car accident last month, and the Utah Highway Patrol says roadside debris was to blame.

Troopers are still evaluating whether to push for action against a South Jordan man who lost a car ramp on Interstate 15 in Centerville just over a week ago. A Range Rover hit the ramp, which is used to elevate a vehicle, and that driver slammed into a car, killing Claire.

"He's heartbroken that obviously this young gal lost her life. Debris was in the road, he couldn't avoid hitting it. He just looked up, there it was, and obviously it's torn him apart," said Lt. Winward.

The Highway Patrol met with the Kenyon family Friday but it's unclear whether the Davis County Attorney's Office will screen criminal charges, issue a citation or take any action at all.

FOX 13 asked Claire's father if he wants justice. He said he's more interested in beginning the healing process than pointing fingers.