Castle Valley Comments
April 20, 2017
by Ron Drake
Apr 20, 2017 | 542 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dax Clifford feels lucky to be alive after a harrowing incident he experienced a couple of weeks ago. Dax, a well-known young man who has worked in the construction trade for local contractors and homeowners in the Castle Valley area for the past decade, was run over by his own backhoe and lived to tell about it.

Dax was grading a new road to where he plans to eventually build a shop on his property 8 miles in on Kane Creek Road, north of Moab. He was laying road base and back-dragging the gravel when he noticed a large rock under the bucket, which was creating a deep rut in the surface of his road. He stopped the backhoe and climbed off to remove the rock but inadvertently left the machine’s engine in neutral. As he was removing the rock, which was located between the bucket and the tractor, the machine rolled forward and proceeded up his right leg past his pelvis before coming to rest on his upper waist, making him a “human wheel chock,” he said.

Dax remained pinned under the backhoe for several minutes before he was able to work his body out from under the weight of the tractor. As soon as he was free the tractor rolled forward again, pinning his right arm under the wheel, but this time the bucket came to rest on the pile of gravel and stopped the forward motion of the machine. After several more minutes he was able to free his arm from beneath the machine and realized that the only way he was going to be heard over the noise of the engine of the backhoe was to turn off the engine. He stood up and climbed onto the tractor and turned the engine off before he climbed back off and collapsed to the ground. He figures that the only thing that saved his life was the fact that the three-foot pile of soft, dry dirt that he was pinned against cushioned his body from the weight of the 15,000-pound machine.

Dax was 1,000 feet away from his van and didn’t think he could make it there and wouldn’t be able to operate it even if he reached the vehicle. Luckily, Dax’s neighbor, Chris, and his dog, a huge Australian wolfhound, Chief, were in the area. Chief heard Dax’s plea for help and came to investigate. Dax ordered the dog to return to Chris for help and the dog obediently went back and started acting unusual, causing Chris to see what was making the dog behave so strangely. Dax said Chief saved the day for him.

When Chris saw the situation he summoned the help of a woman nearby and together they found a piece of plywood to carry Dax to Chris’s Dodge pickup. They managed to load him in the extended cab of the truck for a rough and painful ride to Moab Regional Hospital. A CT scan revealed breaks on the front and back of his pelvis, and a fractured vertebrae in addition to bruises and contusions. During consultations with surgeons in Moab and Grand Junction it was decided to not operate and just let the breaks heal on their own since they were clean breaks. After nearly three days in the hospital the doctors asked him if he wanted to go home to recuperate and he was released with a pair of crutches. Dax has had very little pain after his release from the hospital and has not needed medicine to deal with discomfort. He is staying with his mother, Cyndi Sorochak, while he faces three months of recuperation and he is reporting to be getting better day by day.

Dax has learned to not be in a hurry around heavy equipment and said he feels so lucky for his harrowing experience.


Thirty years ago this week at the Castle Valley Town Council meeting Mayor Marguerite Sweeney stated that Carlsberg Corporation, the developer of the River Ranchos, had turned three greenbelt lots over to the property owners association. Two cemetery lots were also transferred to Grand County. One of the lots is located on the corner of Castle Valley Drive and Shafer Lane and the other was west of the LDS Church on the current town lot.

At a special meeting organized by Castle Valley Town Council member John Groo, an announcement was made regarding a special study of water in the valley. Attorney Jerry Kinghorn and Keith Higginson, a water engineer, were retained to gather data and evaluate the results. It was explained that municipalities like Castle Valley have the right to hold water for future inhabitants but cannot dispose of water rights.

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