Utah State Bureau of Investigation agent Clarence Smith, center, takes laser measurements at the scene of a fatal truck accident on the Colorado River bridge on Wednesday, April 22, as Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Chris Parkin stands by. Utah Highway Patrol Maj. Mike Rapich, rear left, pauses from directing traffic during a break. [Photo by Rudy Herndon / Moab Sun News]

A 53-year-old man was killed last weekend, after his vehicle slammed into a commercial truck that was stopped in heavy traffic midway across the Colorado River Bridge.

Steven Cotner was traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 191 at about 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 18, when his 2007 Chevrolet 3500 crashed into a 2003 Peterbilt tractor truck/ flatbed trailer that was loaded with lumber. According to Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce, the Peterbilt truck was backed up in traffic behind a red light at the intersection of U.S. Highway 191 and state Route 128.

“He was traveling at highway speeds and just crashed into the trailer,” Royce said.

Cotner, who was not wearing a seat belt, died at the scene of the accident; the driver of the Peterbilt truck was not injured.

Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Rich Haycock said there’s a good chance that the victim would still be alive if he’d strapped himself in.

“Had this man been wearing a seat belt, he may have survived,” Haycock said. “There’s only so much that an airbag can do for you.”

The driver’s vehicle sustained severe damage in the crash.

“Chevrolet made that truck 19 feet long, and it’s about 12 feet long (now),” Haycock said.

However, the truck’s design did what it was supposed to, absorbing much of the rear impact and leaving the driver’s side of the passenger compartment “relatively open,” Haycock said.

The Utah Highway Patrol has not determined if the driver had been drinking alcohol.

“We will definitely look at speed as a factor,” Royce said.

One southbound lane across the bridge was closed to traffic for about an hour while crews cleared debris from the scene.

Crews from the Utah Highway Patrol and the Utah State Bureau of Investigation returned to the bridge on Wednesday, April 22, to measure the accident scene with a total-station laser.

While they still need to do some follow-up work, Haycock could report one key finding from their investigation.

“There was no damage to the bridge,” he said.

Cotner was born in Norfolk, Virginia; Royce said that his office has no information about Cotner’s last-known residence.

Man was not wearing seat belt