WOODS CROSS — Three people were killed in a fiery, head-on, wrong-way crash on I-15 early Friday.
About 1:15 a.m., a Ford F-150 pickup truck was traveling north in the southbound lanes of I-15 near 2600 South in Woods Cross when it struck a Hyundai Elantra head-on, said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street.
The impact of the collision killed the car's driver, Samantha Sanchez, 23, of West Jordan, and her passenger, Paul Joseph Durocher, 40, of Draper. Street said it was a "lengthy" extrication process to get the bodies out of the mangled vehicle.
The pickup was tossed into another lane and became engulfed in flames. The driver of the pickup, the lone occupant of the vehicle, was killed. Investigators at first were unable to confirm the driver's gender due to the extensive burn injuries.
The driver was later identified as Kristina Marie Colindres, 24, of West Valley City. Street said investigators believe she had just left work in Salt Lake City and was heading home. She had called a relative just before she left.
Why she was in Woods Cross if she was headed home to West Valley and why she was going the wrong way were all questions still being investigated. As of Friday afternoon, Street said there was no evidence to show impairment was a factor.
Colindres' relatives were being interviewed Friday by investigators to find out more about her background. Street did not know where the woman worked.
"Right now, we're in the preliminary stages. It's going to take us some time to work through this. Obviously, we're looking at all aspects of this — why the person got on, we're looking at alcohol and drugs, and anything that might be a contributor. Right now, we have two high-speed vehicles that collided and it will take us some time to determine what the speeds were, but they appear to be very high speeds — freeway speeds," said UHP Lt. Mike McKay.
Street said investigators were still trying to determine how long the pickup had been going the wrong way. Investigators received at least one report that the pickup got onto I-15 using the 2600 South off-ramp, McKay said. The fatal crash happened within 300 yards of the 2600 South exit.
By Friday afternoon, Street said investigators did not believe Colindres entered I-15 using the 2600 South off-ramp because of how fast she was believed to be going when the crash occurred. He said she would have needed longer to reach that speed, but investigators were still unsure Friday exactly where she entered the freeway.
He said dispatchers received at least one call from another motorist of the wrong-way pickup. The crash happened just moments after that call, he said.
Contributing: Caitlin Burchill