A Utah State Prison officer and four inmates remained in critical condition today after a state Department of Corrections van rolled on I-15 Thursday morning, ejecting four passengers.

The driver, who was the only passenger wearing a seat belt, lost control of the van near American Fork after a momentary distraction, Utah Highway Patrol officials said. The van, which was carrying nine inmates to the Beaver County Jail, rolled into a median near American Fork just after 9 a.m. Thursday.

Officer Barry Sans, who was in the front passenger seat, was flown to the University of Utah Medical Center and remained in extremely critical condition today with head and spinal injuries. Prison spokesman Jack Ford said doctors will not be able to operate on Sans until Saturday. The van driver, officer Jayson Bosco, was released from American Fork Hospital Thursday.

Ford said he did not know why only the driver was wearing a seat belt but said there was some indication the inmates were buckled in and handcuffed when they left Point of the Mountain.

"There's nothing that stops them from taking their seat belts off," Ford said.

Four inmates — Gordon Clayton, 33; Jeremy Culley, 24; Kelvin Dexter, 32; and Cody Vest, 23 — were listed in critical condition today at local hospitals. Prison officials would not release the names of the hospitals.

Five other inmates — John Bixby, 31; Jerry Coombs, 45; Jeffrey Howe, 22; Ricky Lewis, 25; and Bruce Silveira, 38, were in good condition today at the prison infirmary at Point of the Mountain. All nine inmates had been in jail less than a month on third-degree property or drug felonies.

Salt Lake County paramedic Steve Schaugaard was one of the first medical personnel on the scene. He was driving to a part-time job and came upon the accident just a minute after it happened.

He said he saw the wrecked van and a few people standing outside. Schaugaard got out of his vehicle to assess the patients. He quickly determined Sans was the most critically injured.

Schaugaard said he remembered thinking, "This guy's not going to make it if he doesn't get an airway."

Schaugaard held Sans' neck and turned him on his side to clear his airway so he could breathe.

"It was kind of a frustrating thing standing there knowing what needs to be done but not having the equipment," he said.

All he could do was prevent Sans' airway from being blocked and hold bandages to where he was bleeding.

An off-duty Gold Cross driver and a pediatrician also stopped after seeing the accident and helped with the patients, Schaugaard said. About five minutes later, an ambulance from American Fork arrived.

The three off-duty medical personnel helped the ambulance crew administer IVs and breathing devices. A medical helicopter landed a few minutes later to transport Sans.

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