April 20, 2023
TOOELE COUNTY, Utah, April 20, 2023 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Chad McCoy didn’t have much time to think in the second or so Tuesday after he encountered a wrong-way driver heading toward him and other motorists on Interstate 80.
What McCoy did have was lots of training and years of advance work, running through possible scenarios in his mind.
“They try to build in us and instill in us a process of thinking through potential scenarios,” McCoy told reporters gathered at a UHP news conference Thursday — two days after he made the quick decision to stop a wrong-way driver by putting himself in its path for a collision.
“We often talk about playing the what if game, you know, what if this were to happen, because we know in those situations where we only have seconds to act, we don’t have time to think things through,” McCoy said. “I think a lot of the preparation happens before the moment it (the incident) happens…. And so then, in those few seconds, it was just more of a reflex than a long thought process.”
McCoy was on a fairly busy road with the wrong-way truck driver, pulling a U-Haul, coming straight at him in the outer lane. There were no backup troopers in sight, and no wide open space where he could knock the approaching truck.
So McCoy chose to slow his vehicle and allow an impact, taking care to adjust his angle so it would not be a full-force, head-on collision.
“There’s not a lot of room, and it’s obviously quite difficult to hit a certain angle, but I’m just grateful that it worked out the way it did.”
The initial impact, although planned, was still a shock, McCoy said.
“Then I kind of realized that I wasn’t injured in a major way. And then it just kind of was a trooper, you just go into your regular crash scene mode, just concern for everybody around you. So luckily, I was able to get out of the car without problem and then just making sure there weren’t any major injuries, and trying to check on the other driver.”
By that point, other troopers had arrived to assist and interview the other driver.
Speaking two days later, McCoy said he did feel physically sore, but he was ready to return to work next week, as scheduled. Hopefully in a different vehicle.
He warned that, “and just to hopefully get the message out and to remind people to be safe. Obviously, our biggest concern is that we don’t want this to continue happening. There’s multiple reasons why someone might be driving the wrong way, but it’s obviously something we want to prevent from happening. And then just to help people be safe if it does happen.”