Dashcam footage from a Utah Highway Patrol trooper’s vehicle shows the officer on foot as he approaches a car that slid off the highway in Sardine Canyon, when he is suddenly hit from behind by another car and launched into the air.
On Sunday, Sgt. Cade Brenchley became the 11th state trooper to be hit by a car in 2018, while a total of 10 troopers were hit in all of 2017, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.
After he was hit, several passersby stopped to render aid to the trooper and called for help, including the driver who hit him. Among the first responders to the scene were three of Brenchley’s cousins and a couple of childhood friends, he said.
Brenchley said Tuesday that he remembers stepping out of his vehicle, ”and then I remember everything was black. It felt like a weird dream.“
He suffered four broken ribs, a broken shoulder blade and road rash on his face.
“It’s miraculous, though, that this is all I have, considering what we saw [on the video],” Brenchley said, sitting beside his wife and four children during a Tuesday news conference at Logan Regional Hospital, where he continues to recover.
Brenchley, his family, his doctor and fellow UHP officials all spoke at the news conference, which was broadcast by ABC4 via Facebook Live.
“This type of accident is always what we’re trying to prevent as troopers,” Brenchley said. He wept as he talked about the loss of his friend, Trooper Eric Ellsworth, who died after being hit by a car on the side of Interstate 15 in 2016. He said he feels lucky to be alive with his family.
The area on Highway 89 where Brenchley was hit was “very slick, slushy. The roads were snow-covered,” he said. Cars should have been moving slower in that kind of weather, he added, but sometimes people are too focused on their destination.
“We’ve got to pay attention to what’s going on around us,” Brenchley said. “When there’s snow on the road, you just need to check your ego and slow down, to be perfectly frank. Be patient. Be courteous.”
The video shows the car that hit him continue to slide forward in the slush, bump another car and spin around, at one point facing oncoming traffic. Brenchley said he holds “no ill will” toward the driver who hit him.
The driver, a college-age woman, has apologized and come to visit him at the hospital, he said, and he thinks she’s learned to be more cautious.
Brenchley is a second-generation trooper with 13 years of experience, including incidents where he delivered twins on the side of an interstate and helped save a burn victim in a car crash.
He is in charge of UHP’s public information and education efforts in the northern Utah region and works with local high schools. He also coaches soccer in the community.