Thursday, November 22, 2007

Another Utah Highway Patrol Traffic Stop May Have Saved A Life - The Story Of Trooper Terry Woodward

While the attention of Utah and much of the country is preoccupied with rogue Utah Highway Patrol Trooper John Gardner, a story about a very different UHP Trooper needs to be told. The full story, along with video, was broadcast on KTVX Channel 4 in Salt Lake City.

Recently, Trooper Terry Woodward noticed a Dodge 4X4 pickup truck veering in and out of its lane on Interstate 15 at Point of the Mountain in the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley. Upon stopping the vehicle and approaching the driver, a woman named Elena, he immediately found out why she was swerving. “She was obviously upset, the child was crying. She said she had a sick child and she was heading home to her mother's… in Price.”

However, Trooper Woodward then noticed that two-year-old Makayla was not in her car seat. Woodward issued a citation for a seat belt violation. "It's never a pleasant experience stopping them and giving them a ticket,” Woodward said, “but in this case it was a good thing the child was secured".

And why was it a good thing? Because an hour later, Elena and her daughter ran head-on into a tanker truck on U.S. Highway 6 (which has always had a reputation for being a dangerous road). The Dodge 4x4 was so smashed on the driver’s side that Elena had to be extricated from the pickup but little Makayla escaped with only bruises and a black eye. No details were reported as to who was at fault, but since Elena was swerving earlier, it's possible she swerved out of her lane at just the wrong time. I've driven U.S. Highway 6 down through Price - and regardless of how well the state maintains it, there is very little room for error on that highway. Price Canyon is simply rough terrain.

Uncanny - just an hour after that ticket was issued that same mother and daughter were involved in a head-on collision with a semi---and survived.

And Trooper Woodward got a "thank-you" from the family. "We're just very grateful. We feel she was very protected--that they were both watched over,” said Makayla’s grandmother, Joan Stout. Stout says her daughter, Elena, faces a long road to recovery but her injuries will heal.

It will be a very grateful thanksgiving,” Joan Stout said in a voice choked with emotion, and she says her family has a dedicated trooper to thank for the life of their granddaughter. “We're very grateful he was out there doing his job and don't feel it was coincidence that he stopped Elena.” [Ed. Note: True, it probably wasn't a coincidence.]

The truth is that Terry Woodward is much more representative of the typical UHP Trooper than John Gardner. Woodward gave the lady a ticket, which seems "chickenshit", but the lady buckled up her kid and saved her life.

By the way, here's another wrinkle. What made this even more meaningful for Trooper Woodward is that little Makayla is the niece of a Department of Wildlife Resource officer who trained under Woodward.

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