June deadliest month on Utah roads, patrolmen working to ensure trend doesn’t continue

Posted at 12:01 PM, Jul 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-03 23:46:18-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- It's a trend Utah law enforcement members say they hope doesn't continue into the holiday weekend.

June was the deadliest month for fatal car crashes in about nine years, with a total of 36 deaths on Utah roads.

"June is a really tough month. We've probably seen the most fatalities in my career," said Major Michael Rapich of the Utah Highway Patrol.

Rapich said the trend extends beyond just June.

A total of 109 people died in crashes on Utah roads from January 1 to June 30 of 2014. The same period in 2013 saw 89 deaths.

"Every single trooper out here who has been on the job for more than a year can tell stories of having to go tell a family that a loved one is not coming home," Rapich said.

UHP officials said that in all the cases it has investigated, 60 percent of the people who died were not wearing seat belts.

"It's a personal choice, but the impact it has when someone makes the wrong choice is dramatic," Rapich said, adding that it's illegal to drive or ride in a vehicle without a seatbelt.

The Highway Patrol has added 100 shifts for troopers during the Independence Day weekend.

"The sole purpose for having those troopers out there is to get everyone home safely," Rapich said.