The goal for the Utah Highway Patrol over the Easter holiday weekend was to reduce the number of crashes on the freeways.
But after just one day, troopers noticed a disturbing trend: a high number of drivers going faster than 100 mph.
From Friday through Sunday, troopers conducted a special speed enforcement campaign on I-15 from approximately Santaquin to the I-70 connector in Millard County, and on U.S. 6 leading to the Little Sahara Recreation area. In just the first 30 hours of the campaign, 30 vehicles were stopped for going at least 100 mph.
For the entire weekend, a total of 52 vehicles were stopped for traveling at 100 mph or faster with the top speed being 121 mph, said UHP Sgt. Corey Houskeeper.
"It's quite concerning to see how many 110s, 120s we saw," Houskeeper said as he looked over the statistics from the weekend. "It's really concerning to see that amount — 52 in a three-day period."
One of those going over 100 mph also turned into a chase.
About 5:15 p.m. Sunday, Houskeeper was patrolling I-15 in Juab County when he observed a car going approximately 100 mph. When Houskeeper attempted to pull the vehicle over, it sped up to 120 mph and did not stop.
"During this time the vehicle passed on the right and cut cars off as it moved back to the left. As the vehicle did this, it came close to several cars and placed many people in danger. This occurred many times and a review of the video will have to be done to determine the exact number. At times, the vehicle traveled in both lanes, the travel and the passing lane," according to a police booking affidavit.
Troopers were eventually able to spike the fleeing vehicle's tires.
"After the vehicle was spiked, it continued traveling 3 miles as the tires came apart," the affidavit states.
The driver stopped on the shoulder of the road, got out of his car and ran. He jumped a fence bordering the freeway and fled into a residential area in Santaquin as troopers ran after him.
"We crossed through several backyards and alarmed several homeowners who were in their yards," Houskeeper noted in the affidavit.
Troopers caught up with Marshal Paul Dietrich, 23, and arrested him for investigation of DUI, speeding, failing to stop for police, having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle and 11 counts of reckless endangerment. Dietrich was also charged with DUI in February in Provo Justice Court, according to court records.
In another incident from the weekend, Houskeeper said troopers attempted to stop a vehicle for an equipment violation when it also fled and reached a speed of 135 mph. Due to public safety concerns, troopers stopped chasing the vehicle. But Houskeeper said troopers have leads on the vehicle and are expecting to track down the driver.
In a similar incident, a Sevier County sheriff's deputy spotted a motorcyclist going 123 mph Sunday night in an area where the speed limit is 60 mph, according to a police booking affidavit. The rider initially fled but was later arrested by the deputy.
On a positive note, the UHP reported zero fatalities on Utah's freeways during the holiday weekend.
"That's pretty amazing for as much traffic as saw," Houskeeper said.
In his area in Juab and Millard counties, Houskeeper said there were three crashes resulting in injuries not considered to be life-threatening. One of those crashes was the result of drowsy driving, he said. Another was from driving while intoxicated.
As for why people caught going over 100 mph were going so fast, Houskeeper said troopers hear a lot of different reasons. But he said the bottom line is the reward is not worth the risk. The amount of time a person traveling between Salt Lake City and St. George will save by going over 100 mph does not justify the risk that driver is putting a family in.
"That risk you're taking, the reward is not there," he said.
Houskeeper said troopers will be conducting similar speed enforcement operations all summer.