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Amazing truck crash photos spark Web debate

  • Story Highlights
  • Photos show how truck came inches from flipping off a 200-foot cliff
  • Despite allegations the photos were altered, police insist they are real
  • Police: Truck crashed through concrete barricade at 75 mph, flipped over culvert
  • Web site runs photos under headline, "I bet this guy will be in church Sunday!"
  • Next Article in U.S. »
By Eliott C. McLaughlin
CNN
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(CNN) -- What started as a few seconds of terror for a driver in Utah has become a set of photos so unbelievable they're making their rounds on the Web's myth-busting circuit.

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Fire personnel respond to the scene of the December 30 accident in which no one was critically hurt.

On December 30, an Arizona driver, whose name is redacted from police records because of Utah law, was driving east along State Route 59, a canyon road just outside Hurricane, a city of 12,000 located 135 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada.

The driver told police the 1991 GMC pickup was traveling 55 mph through the Mojave Desert town when it left the two-lane roadway. The accident report states the truck left a 92-foot-long skid mark suggesting it was more likely traveling about 83 mph.

After sliding off the road and onto the right shoulder, the driver "overcorrected back left and crossed the oncoming lane of traffic before hitting a cement barricade with the right front of the vehicle," the report states. See the photos at thatsnotnews.com

Investigators estimated that the truck was traveling about 75 mph when it crashed through a concrete barricade separating the road from a roughly 200-foot precipice running alongside State Route 59.

What happened next has been described on Internet messages boards as "impossible," "crazy" and "insane." One Web site ran the photos under the headline, "I bet this guy will be in church Sunday!"

So stunning are the photos on the myth-buster sites that many people posting comments allege the pictures have been altered with Adobe Photoshop.

Not so, say the local police.

After crashing through the barricade, the truck slammed into a concrete drainage culvert on the canyon side of the guardrail. The force of the impact propelled the pickup truck into the air, spinning it 180 degrees counter-clockwise along a guardrail.

"When it hit, it flipped end over end and cleared the culvert," Hurricane Police Chief Lynn Excell said, explaining how the truck sailed over the watercourse, a distance of about 20 feet. "How that happened I don't know."

Perhaps even more astonishing than the flip is that the truck was able to stay on the slender right-of-way separating the road from the cliff, an expanse about 25-feet wide.

"It was amazing," said Hurricane police spokeswoman Mindy Hatfield.

The truck -- its front end smashed -- landed right-side up, facing the opposite direction it was traveling. No one was critically injured, Excell said, but the driver landed mere inches from the cliff's edge -- and certain death.

"Vehicle 1 came to rest facing west approximately one foot from the edge of the cliff," states the police report.

Excell has seen the photos that have appeared on thatsnotnews.com, hoax-slayer.com and the popular urban legends site, snopes.com. The photos are authentic, he said, and accusations that they've been altered are off base.

"Weird things happen," he said, but "that is absolutely a lock-stock-and-barrel factual thing." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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