WATCH: Semi Driver Cuts Off Snowplow

UDOT stresses the importance of giving plow drivers room

Video taken 01/12/17 *not 2009 - SPANISH FORK CANYON, Utah (ABC4 Utah)-  A snow plow driver is lucky to be alive after a semi truck clipped his snow plow sending it into oncoming traffic, through a guard rail and rolling several times down an embankment in Spanish Fork Canyon. 

Terry Jacobson has been driving snow plows for over 20 years.  He has been working out of the Spanish Fork shed for the last 8 years, before that he worked in Nephi. He was clearing the roads in Spanish Fork Canyon Thursday around noon when the crash occurred.  Jacobson was driving westbound on U.S. 6 just east of Diamond Fork.  A dash cam on a commercial drivers vehicle captured the entire incident.  

 As the driver approaches Jacobson, his snow plow comes into view.  Then suddenly a flat bed semi truck approaches Jacobson on the right and clips the right wing of his snow plow and pushes him off the road down 300ft off a cliff.  

"He's bruised up a little bit, he's a little sore i talked to him this morning," said South Area Supervisor Neil Lundell.

Drivers who witnessed the accident pulled off to the side and went down to help Jacobson.  The driver of the semi trailer also pulled over and was cooperating with police when they arrived.

"When I seen it I wondered what was going through our drivers mind, I can't imagine how fast it happened," said Lundell.

The two vehicles were traveling at about 50 mph.  The weight of the snow plow Jacobson was driving close to 70,000 pounds.  At that weight and speed that sort of vehicle is very vulnerable and the force of the hit was enough to send that snow plow barreling off the side of the cliff.

Fortunately he is alive thanks to the cab of the truck and him wearing his seatbelt.  

"The passenger side of the cab was completely smashed," said Lundell.  "It was a violent ride he went off an embankment that was about 300 ft, if you know a 1-to-1 slope, that's steep."

Witnesses were able to pull Jacobson out quickly and Utah Highway Patrol arrived immediately.  Jacobson was transported to the hospital in serious condition for his injuries.  Tonight, he is recovering from his injuries.  Lundell saying when he spoke to him he had no memory of the accident, saying he only remembered going off the cliff.

The plow destroyed 75 feet of guard rail and was being repaired as of Friday afternoon.  

The Utah Department of Transportation is hoping showing the video will bring attention to the dangers of crowding or attempting to pass a snow plow and hoping releasing the video will stress the importance of respecting plow drivers.

"We really ask that when the general public is out there and these men and women are working to protect them and provide safe transportation, that you think of their safety...and your safeties," Lundell said.  "We get calls in the middle of the night, we work holidays and we do our job and take pride in what we."

"Stay behind the plows, slow down, it's critical that you slow down when we have inclement weather," said Utah Department of Transportation Executive Director Carlos Braceras.

"If that driver would have stayed behind, Terry would be home tonight, he would have been fine, everything would have been fine," added Lundell.

This year there have been four accidents involving snow plows, but this one may possibly be the worst.

"I'm sure it's gonna be hard for Terry to get back in.  I mean there's gonna be some fear there and it's gonna take a while to get back," said Lundell. "Them people when they see how violent and how quickly it happened I hope it gets our message across."

When driving near snow plows UDOT says you should give them about a 200 ft space in between yourself and the plow, never try to pass them, and don't ever cut them off.  

"When you're behind the trucks it probably feels a little safe.  They've done their job and this was a situation where the driver chose to pass a truck on the right hand side," said Braceras.  "If you think you can pass a snow plow and experience the same conditions in front of it or beside it as you are in the back you're fouling yourself. These plows are moving a lot of snow."

Remember, these men and women are out there in dangerous conditions making sure our roads are safe. 

The driver of the semi truck was cited for multiple violations including improper passing and leaving his lane. 

 

 


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