Freak sandstorm kills 8 including children in 22-car wreckage

A sudden sandstorm in Utah caused a more than 20-car pileup and resulted in eight deaths, with children among the victims. The freak storm struck on Sunday afternoon, obstructing driver visibility on Interstate 15 between the Meadow and Kanosh exits.

The storm formed due to strong winds in the region, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety. Several people were transported to hospitals, with at least three in serious condition, after the ‘series of crashes’ around 4.30pm, the department stated on Monday. The fatalities included ‘some children’, officials said, but did not disclose how many.

Five of the eight people killed were traveling together in one vehicle, the department stated in its press release. Two other people who died were in the same vehicle. Another fatality occurred in a third car.

‘It appears that 22 vehicles were involved in Sunday’s crashes after high winds caused a sand or dust storm and impaired visibility on the roadway,’ the department stated.

Following the incident, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt Cameron Rhoden told KUTV there were ‘vehicles all over’.

‘Several vehicles tried to swerve off the roadway. We have vehicles that are flipped up on their sides,’ Rhoden said. ‘One of the vehicles that was pulling a trailer, the trailer has pretty much completely been destroyed and is on the freeway.’

The department said it would wait at least 24 hours as they notify next of kin, before releasing the names of those who died.

The scarcity of vegetation in the region may have contributed to the strength of the sandstorm.

Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Andrew Battenfield on Sunday said ‘no one could see, so people started stopping, and then you just get a chain reaction’.

‘Nobody could see, and then all of a sudden, you’re slamming into a car,’ he said. ‘It’s just a horrific situation.’

In a statement posted on Twitter, Utah Governor Spencer Cox said: ‘We’re stunned and saddened by the horrific accidents in Millard County. We fervently pray for the loved ones of those who perished and for those fighting for their lives.’