Motorists Narrowly Escape Rockslide on Utah Highway: ‘It Just Rained Boulders’

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Fotosearch via Getty Images)

On Saturday, October 8, a relaxing autumn drive abruptly turned into a nightmare scenario for a Utah family when giant rocks began to rain down on both the highway and the cars around them.

At 3:30 PM, Utah police were informed of a rockslide hammering motorists on State Route 14 near Cedar City. Among those who fell victim to the barrage of boulders was the Armga family, who later recounted the terrifying incident to FOX 13.

“It just rained boulders,” recalled Jordan Armga, who experience the horrifying rockslide alongside her husband, Harrison, and three children. “We just came around a bend and it started raining boulders.”

“Our toddler was sitting behind the driver in her car seat and the biggest rock hit right on her door,” the traumatized mother continued. “[It] took out her door handle, but another 4 to 6 inches and it would have went through her window.”

For Harrison Armga, the most frightening part of the ordeal was when he saw an enormous boulder explode against the side of a truck. At that point, he knew he had to do whatever he could do get his family out of harm’s way.

“Saw a couple of boulders come out in the road and then a massive one hit that other truck and exploded,” Harrison said. “And one of those hit the door of our car. I stopped and that’s when more boulders were coming down and I just floored it to get out of the way.”

Utah Police Warn Motorists of Dangerous Rockslides

Despite the rockslide hitting the truck head-on, no one in the car was injured, according to reports from the scene. That didn’t make the moment any less terrifying, however, especially for Jordan Armga, who watched the boulders hurtle toward a small child inside the truck firsthand.

“It was a man and his son,” Jordan recalled. “And his son must have been 8 or 9 years old, just a little boy. He actually took the biggest hit, the little boy, because he was coming up the mountain on the side where the rocks were falling.”

The police were contacted the moment the rockslide began. While the motorists waited for their arrival, however, they took it upon themselves to help each other.

“People got out of their cars. People just rushed out of their cars to move rocks,” Jordan explained. “There was a guy pulling a mini-excavator down the mountain. And he pulled that off his trailer and moved the boulders out of the road before law enforcement showed up.”

Motorists have demanded improvements to the road for years. The stretch of Route 14, however, remains dangerous due to rockslides, and even more so during this time of year.

“That is an active rockslide area and has been for years,” warned Sgt. Scott Mackelprang of Utah Highway Patrol. “When you’re driving canyon routes, be aware of rocks that are piled on the shoulder. Things like that that can be evidence of smaller rocks that have come down. That would be a good indicator that there are more rocks or larger rocks coming in those same areas.”