Utah Stories

Top 5 Utah Stories February 12th, 2024

On today’s top 5, tourism is impacting Utah in many different ways. What do local Utahns think about this increase in tourism?


  1. Lawsuit alleges Delta Air Lines overserved man who later ran over, killed wife at SLC airport:

Delta Airlines is being sued for alleged overserving of a passenger who ran over his wife. Charlotte Sturgeon died after she was run over by her husband in their car when he was, “intoxicated far beyond excess of the legal blood limit.” The Drinks were served to Shawn Sturgeon by Delta crew members, the complaint alleges. 

Sturgeon argued with his wife and security footage shows Shawn Sturgeon placing their child into a rear passenger seat of the vehicle then getting into the driver’s seat. While she was placing the child in the seat, Shawn Sturgeon put the vehicle in reverse and abruptly accelerated and stopped causing his wife to lose her balance. Then with the passenger door still open, Shawn Sturgeon accelerated again, then he put the vehicle into drive and accelerated over his wife leaving a imprint of the tire over her body. 

He then told her to get into the car. She later died at the hospital.

The charging document says that Shawn Sturgeon’s blood alcohol was at .13% upon arrest almost three times the legal limit. He was sentenced to 1-15 years in Utah State prison for automobile homicide and up to five years for domestic violence. 

The story by the Salt Lake Tribune says that Delta Airlines said, “Although we dispute the allegations in the complaint we cannot comment further..” The incident occured on April 4th, 2022.

2. Utah’s ‘Mighty 5′ Ad Campaign The Good and The Bad

Last year 10.6 million tourists sojourned in Utah to visit our National Parks. This is up from just 6.3 million visitors just a decade ago. Talking to Moab residents and business owners over the past few years we find mixed feelings regarding Utah Office of Tourism’s Mighty Five ad campaign. Of course it’s been the most effective advertising campaign in history for attracting visitors both national and international to Utah’s five national parks. It’s created a bonanza for Moab hotels and adventure tour guiding businesses. One operator told Utah Stories that his company hosted Donald Trump’s children and their families under a luxury brand they operate. “Glamping” has become a buzz word as has putting visiting national parks on one’s “bucket list”. 

Watching how Moab has transformed to a once local, regional and lesser-know international favorite to a hot-bed for adventure seekers and tourists has revealed both the good of a hyper-tourism travel economy as well as the bad of such a complete reliance upon and such big-monied interests entering into what most area residents would like to consider a distant-outpost of commerce and economic activity in the heart of the Great Basin Desert.

Today, Moab’s old timers love their freedom and they bemoan additional restrictions on their rights to travel freely on their expansive trails that wind around some of the most stunning scenery in the world. Many of these trails were built to access uranium mines. Now these same trails are getting funding for “heavy protection.” against the potential harm and ecological destruction that “too much love” by tourists or uninformed tourists can cause. 

Utah Stories will continue to cover this ongoing story as it develops. 

3. 12 Million People Visited Utah State Parks Last Year – An All-time high

Visitation to Utah’s 46 state parks last year reached a little over 12 million people for the first time on record, according to a KSL.com analysis of Utah Division of State Parks visitation data. It’s a 21% increase from the previous year’s visitation total and a 4% increase from the previous record of 11.6 million set in 2021. Utah Division of State Parks spokesperson, Devan Chavez has a few theories, possibly during COVID-19 pandemic people went to new areas and decided to return. Another reason for this record is that Utah’s drought wasn’t as bad in 2023. “Last year’s good water numbers, water reservoir level numbers, were a big part of that,” Chavez said to KSL. “People were looking to play in water a lot last year, and they had a lot to play on.

4. Skiers recall terrifying avalanche experience in Little Cottonwood Canyon

A group of skiers said it was a “miracle” that nobody was killed in a “serious avalanche” in the backcountry of Little Cottonwood Canyon Sunday. Only one skier was reportedly caught and carried nearly 2,000 feet in a series of slides near Lisa Falls. The avalanche reportedly had a depth of two feet, a width of 100 feet and a vertical of 1,500 feet, the Utah Avalanche Center recorded.

5. ‘Cowardly, harmful and unacceptable;’ School district passes resolution condemning Natalie Cline

Granite School District Board of Education passed a resolution Friday condemning state board of education member Natalie Cline for targeting a student with false comments. The meeting comes days after Cline posted comments on Facebook that insinuated a girl’s basketball player in the district was transgender, when she is not. The student’s parents said this to Fox News, “Not only for our daughter but for so many children that are going through life just figuring out who they are, and don’t know how to express it, and are already just tormenting themselves,” said her father, Al van der Beek. “And then to throw into the mix, adults that are supposed to be in a position of protection and support in our system, that are the very ones that are harming our children even more and victimizing them.”

*Content for this article curated from other sources.

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