OGDEN — A Utah Highway Patrol trooper was injured Friday after a vehicle crashed into his parked patrol car — the second time he has been hit in less than a year.
Trooper Brandon Whitehead had just completed a traffic stop and was finishing paperwork in his car on the right side of northbound I-15 just south of Ogden when the accident occurred around 1:30 a.m., Weber County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Klint Anderson said. A vehicle traveling north apparently drifted off the side of the road, hitting the back of the trooper's vehicle and causing extensive damage.
Whitehead was able to get out of the vehicle on his own and radio for help.
In the 911 call, the trooper urgently reported, "I'm hit. I'm down, losing consciousness." He said he didn't know who hit him but that another vehicle had stopped, and told dispatchers he was "in and out" of consciousness.
Whitehead says he doesn't remember making the call. He says he acted like the old game "Frogger" — trying to dodge potential cars to get to the center divider.
He spent most of the day at his Syracuse home with his wife, Becky. They still marvel at how he survived this crash, and a similar one in Box Elder County in January.
"No luck about it," he said. "One-hundred percent of people in law enforcement have the Lord on their side, and no doubt about it, I am extremely blessed."
Both Whitehead and the 28-year-old driver of the vehicle who struck Whitehead were treated at a hospital and later released, Utah Highway Patrol Cpl. Todd Johnson said. Whitehead suffered minor injuries and has a lot of back, neck and head pain.
"We're very fortunate that the trooper was not severely injured or worse, and we're very fortunate the other driver was not severely injured or worse," he said.
Anderson said police had been able to interview both men involved, but had not yet determined what caused the driver to leave the roadway. "According to the officers' observations, the driver did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol," he said, but noted that speed may have been a factor.
Friday's accident was similar to an accident Whitehead was involved in last January in Box Elder County.
"He was on the shoulder on the right, and somebody struck him while he was in his vehicle," Anderson said of the earlier accident.
Authorities are not sure whether Whitehead's emergency lights were activated Friday, but said his vehicle lights were on. Both men involved were wearing seat belts.
"That was what saved their lives," Anderson said.
The accident should serve as a reminder to motorists to "slow down and move over" when they see law enforcement officers pulled over on the shoulder, Johnson said. "It would be wise for everybody to move over one lane in those situations."
No citations have been issued in the crash, which remains under investigation by the Weber County Sheriff's Office.
Whitehead says he can't wait to get back to work in a couple of weeks.
Contributing: Peter Samore