SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A sixth person has died from injuries suffered in a fiery, head-on collision that occurred during one of the deadliest Fourth of July weekends of the past two decades in Utah, authorities said Monday.
A seventh person also is in very critical condition from Sunday's crash, which happened when a minivan tried to pass a vehicle on a two-lane highway and slammed into an oncoming sports car with two people inside, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce said.
The sports car caught fire, killing an Arizona man and a Nevada woman. Five people were in the minivan, and three of them died at the scene.
The wreck happened on U.S. Route 191 near Monticello, about 285 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.
It came two days after another head-on collision involving a wrong-way driver on Interstate 80 in northern Utah killed three members of a family.
All told, there were at least 11 confirmed traffic deaths in the state from Friday through Sunday of the holiday weekend, said Gary Mower, a research analyst for the Utah Highway Safety Office. Several other people remain in critical condition.
The deadliest July Fourth weekend since the state began keeping track 20 years ago was in 2008, when 12 people died over four days. Last year, 10 people died over five days, Mower said.
The rate of highway deaths around the Fourth of July ranks the highest of any of the holidays, with 1.4 fatalities per day over the past 10 years, Utah statistics show
Royce said this year's two major crashes should serve as a stark reminder that people need to drive more carefully.
Impairment is suspected in the I-80 crash, and a bad decision to try to pass another car with not enough room caused the US-91 collision, Royce said.
"If they would have been a little more patient," he said. "Both of these crashes were entirely avoidable."
Authorities are withholding the victims' identities in the crash near Monticello until all family members have been notified.
It appears the minivan was carrying a Salt Lake City family who was visiting relatives in the Moab area, Royce said. The relationship between the two people in the sports car is unknown, he said.
In the I-80 crash, authorities say Paul Mumford, 36, of West Jordan, inexplicably turned around Friday night and drove the wrong way before colliding with an SUV driven by Jose Adame-Orozco, 36, of Farmington.
Three passengers in the SUV died at the scene: Adame-Orozco's girlfriend, Delphine John, 44, and her daughters, Deliah Ramirez, 18, and Anaya Orozco, 3.