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DUI suspect strikes UHP patrol car in New Year's Day crash; trooper injured

DUI suspect strikes UHP trooper's patrol car on New Year's Day
DUI suspect strikes UHP trooper's patrol car on New Year's Day
Posted at 10:45 AM, Jan 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-01 20:34:12-05

RIVERDALE, Utah — A Utah Highway Patrol trooper suffered minor injuries Friday morning when a DUI suspect ran into the back of the trooper's patrol car on I-15 in Riverdale.

It happened around 6:30 on northbound I-15 near milepost 340. The trooper was parked on the shoulder of the freeway when a Honda Civic drifted out of its lane and struck the UHP vehicle.

“He saw it coming, and he sat back in the seat and just held on,” said Lt. Justin Cheney.

The drunk driver hit the back corner of Trooper Brandon Mortensen’s patrol car, then kept moving down the side before coming to a stop, feet away from the patrol car.

If the driver had hit Mortensen’s car directly, Lt. Cheney said he would be telling a completely different story.

“When I pulled up on scene and saw his car — off to the side, the door ripped off, just a mangled mess — my heart stopped,” said Lt. Cheney.

The door of Mortensen’s car had to be torn off to allow first responders to reach the trooper.

A DUI suspect ran into the back of a UHP trooper's patrol car on I-15 in Riverdale Friday morning, Jan. 1, 2021.

Mortensen was then taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

"This incident highlights the importance of impaired driver enforcement. Over the holiday UHP troopers investigated 37 suspected impaired drivers from Utah roadways," UHP wrote in a Facebook post.

New Year’s Eve night was one of the worst Lt. Cheney has seen for DUIs in Weber County for the past couple of years.

“Almost every trooper that worked in Weber County last night got a DUI,” said Lt. Cheney.

Statewide, UHP troopers arrested 37 people over New Year’s for DUI, compared to 33 arrests over the same period last year.

“If you decide to drink, please do not get in a car and drive,” said Lt. Cheney.

Especially because his colleague could be out patrolling the roads, Lt. Cheney said, had the driver decided to find a different way home.

The Weber County Sheriff's Office is investigating the crash and Roy Police are investigating the DUI offense.