MURRAY, Utah — FOX 13 has learned new information about a wrong-way crash that triggered a massive emergency response Monday night.
A police report says the driver who crashed head-on into multiple vehicles at the junction of I-15 and I-215 “had planned the events of the night and had done them on purpose.”
According to Unified Police the incident began around 8:40 p.m. when 35-year-old Justin Wayne Robertson rammed his white Chevrolet Avalanche into a parked patrol vehicle at the UPD Cottonwood Heights substation on 2700 E. When officers exited the building to pursue him, Robertson took off and drove onto an I-215 off-ramp.
“He was traveling westbound in eastbound lanes,” reads a probable cause document obtained by FOX 13. “He reached the interchange from I-15 southbound to I-215 eastbound to travel the wrong way.”
On the interchange, Robertson crashed into two oncoming vehicles. According to Utah Highway Patrol, the first vehicle he hit was a Ford Taurus driven by a 19-year-old woman, who had to be extricated and flown to a hospital. The woman later died of her injuries. The passenger in the vehicle, a 31-year-old man, sustained serious injuries and was transported to a hospital by ambulance. A dog was also transported by officers to an emergency veterinarian clinic.
A police report alleges that the truck driven by Robertson also struck a second vehicle, and the driver sustained “some level of injury but was not transported.”
Police apprehended Robertson and took him into custody. At one point, it was believed there may have been an additional suspect which triggered K-9 response from various law enforcement agencies.
According to a probable cause statement, Robertson was identified by his suspended Utah driver's license, expired registration and lack of insurance.
“He was displaying signs of impairment such as physical indicators, statements, and abnormal behaviors,” the report states.
WRONG-WAY CRASH on I-215 from Monday night that hospitalized multiple people initially began at the @UPDSL with a man driving his truck into a parked patrol vehicle and taking off. pic.twitter.com/J9lHMjqDuD
— 𝐁𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐒𝐜𝐡𝐧𝐞𝐞 (@brian_schnee) April 21, 2021
Robertson allegedly told police he was high and used methamphetamine prior to the crash. An officer wrote that he seized a small bag of meth from Robertson. He is being held in the Salt Lake County Jail on a number of offenses, including felony charges relating to DUI with serious bodily injury, failure to remain at an accident involving serious injury, and failure to respond to officers' signal to stop. He is being held without bail.
“The biggest factor with the majority of wrong-way — at least the serious wrong-way crashes in the serious events that we see when people drive the wrong way — the biggest factor there is impairment,” UHP Lt. Nick Street said.
Street recommends drivers stay to the right side of the freeway, especially during late night or overnight hours.
“Give yourself enough distance to where you can maintain that 12-to-15 second sightline down the road, so you have that advanced warning of a wrong-way driver coming your way, [and] that you make good decisions to avoid them," he said.
According to UHP, there were 104 wrong-way crashes that were tended to or investigated on freeways in the state in 2020. Fifteen resulted in fatalities.