February 19, 2018

Nine Killed as Utah College Van Rolls Over

Utah University Van Accident photo

Sept 27, 2005. TREMONTON, Utah. A Utah State University van overturned on a highway about 65 miles north of Salt Lake City, killing eight students and an instructor, authorities said. Two other students were injured. The 11 occupants of the van were ejected as the vehicle rolled four times on Interstate 84 near Tremonton, said Trooper Jeff Nigbur.

Key points to the Utah rollover story:

  • Nine people died in a 15-passenger 1994 Dodge RAM van rollover accident.
  • The left rear tire failed due to a blow out or de-tread. This happens in 80% of the rollover incidents, even on tires, like this one, that only have 16,000 miles on them. As indicated in our FAQ,at least 50% of the weight is distributed to the left-rear tire under normal load conditions, causing the left rear tire to wear out 3x faster than the the other three tires on the van.

There were 11 passengers in the van. Most likely, the rear bench seat was removed, decreasing the number of passenger seats, but providing more room for luggage. There are false rumors spread by insurance companies that removing the the back bench seat reduces the chance of rollover. In fact, the NHTSA has always said that 10 or more passengers increases the rollover risk by 500%. Removing the back seat does NOT make the van safer, but in fact, could increase the instability of the van.

  • The roof collapsed, so even if the occupants were wearing seatbelts, anybody sitting on the right side of the van would have been crushed. In other words, wearing seatbelts would not have saved thier lives!
  • The same University had a similar rollover accident in 2001 in a 15-passenger Dodge van similar to the one involved in this accident. In the 2001 accident, six members of the University volleyball team were injured. Most likely, the families of the victims WILL sue the University because the school had prior knowledge of the risks associated with the vans and willfully put these students in harms way. This will result in millions of dollars lost by the school and their insurance company will cancel their policy, increasing costs for years to come.
  • All of this could have been prevented, but someone at the University made the decision to continue using these vans, even after their 2001 rollover experience.


  1. A lawsuit was filed against DaimlerChrysler Corp and Cooper Tire & Rubber Company by the victims families. The lawsuit alleges that the left rear tire “peeled off” (de-treaded), causing the van’s driver to lose control and the vehicle to roll over several times when it left the roadway.

    The parents DID file a claim against USU. The University finally stopped using the vans and is replacing the vans with small buses and minivans.

    So, my analysis, so far, has been correct.

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