GARDEN CITY, UT – A truck driver died Saturday morning, October 9, after his semi trailer crashed on a highway in Rich County, Utah. The truck accident occurred when the brakes reportedly failed as the tractor trailer was descending Logan Canyon on U.S. Highway 89 near the community of Garden City. The accident area is in the far north section of the state near the border with Wyoming about 55 miles west of Kemmerer, Wyoming.
On Saturday morning 35 year old Andrew J. Benik of Clearfield, UT was driving a semi dump truck with an attached trailer eastbound on U.S. Highway 89 through Rich County, UT. The truck driver had picked up a load of asphalt and was driving to Kemmerer, WY to deliver the cargo.
The truck accident occurred just after 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning as Mr. Benik was taking the semi dump truck down Logan Canyon on eastbound U.S. Highway 89 near Garden City, UT. The truck driver suddenly lost control near Mile Marker 495 on the highway and the semi trailer went off the road and down the canyon embankment.
According to several people who witnessed the truck accident it appeared that the brakes on the semi trailer failed. They reported seeing the tractor trailer accelerating over the posted speed limit as it descended and black smoke coming from the truck’s axle area just before it went off the highway. Utah Highway Patrol officers who arrived at the scene and looked at the tractor trailer also said it appeared that failing brakes probably caused the crash.
As the out of control semi dump truck plunged down the embankment the driver attempted to escape by jumping from the cab of his truck. A lieutenant with Utah Highway Patrol said that the semi dump truck may have been going more than 70 MPHs at the time of the truck accident and the driver might have thought he had a better chance of surviving if he got out of the cab. Unfortunately Mr. Benik hit the ground hard and likely died on impact from fatal head injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene from severe head trauma.
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After the truck driver jumped the semi trailer continued down the canyon for several hundred yards smashing over trees and through shrubbery. The semi dump truck finally came to a stop on the highway’s embankment, landing upright on its wheels.
No other persons or vehicles were involved in the truck accident.
UHP cordoned off an area of US 89 around the truck accident site while highway crews cleared the debris of the crash. A second semi was brought in to tow the trailer filled with asphalt and a heavy duty wrecker pulled the disabled truck up the embankment and off the highway.
The initial investigation of UHP officers pointed to brake failure as being the cause of the fatal truck accident. However it is likely that the Utah State Commercial Vehicles Department will conduct a thorough inspection of the semi dump truck to confirm that the brakes failed and to determine if any other mechanical deficiencies on the semi could have contributed to the crash.
No charges have been brought at this time. The company that owned the semi trailer could be cited in the future pending the completion of the truck accident investigation.
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