Troopers respond to 4 crashes within 6 hours in the Gorge

The aftermath of a crash involving a Ford pickup truck and travel trailer on Interstate 15 near mile marker 1, Mohave County, Ariz., April 28, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Four separate crashes in quick succession on Interstate 15 along the Virgin River Gorge in Arizona Saturday resulted in multiple destroyed vehicles but no injured persons.  

The aftermath of a crash involving a Ford pickup truck and travel trailer on Interstate 15 near mile marker 1, Mohave County, Ariz., April 28, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

The mayhem began a few minutes before 6 p.m. MST when the driver of a white Ford F-150 pickup truck hauling a trailer was heading north on I-15 near mile marker 1 in Mohave County, Arizona.

The 71-year-old driver, who noticed a trooper stopped on the outside shoulder of the interstate conducting a traffic stop, moved over into the outside lane, trooper Tom Callister of the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.

As the Ford’s driver merged over to the left, the truck clipped a second pickup truck that was in the driver’s blind spot, Callister said. The driver then overcorrected to the right before veering across both lanes of traffic and going off the road.

“He saw my lights and moved from the right lane to the left to give me room, and then side-swiped another vehicle as he did so,” Callister said.

The aftermath of a crash involving a Ford pickup truck and travel trailer on Interstate 15 near mile marker 1, Mohave County, Ariz., April 28, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

The trailer was ripped from the pickup, and both it and the truck rolled multiple times, splitting the trailer apart and causing the Ford to flip before both came to rest approximately 75 feet from the roadway.

“The truck was literally destroyed, and the travel trailer was ripped into 50 pieces,” Callister said. “There wasn’t even one solid piece left.”

The pickup truck that was struck by the Ford was driven by a woman with her 2-year-old daughter inside, both of whom were properly restrained.

No injuries were reported, which Callister attributed to seat-belt use.

“They did not even have a scratch on them,” he said, “but when I walked up to the scene, I thought I might be dealing with a fatality.”

Callister said he has dealt with many crashes where the damage to the vehicles was significantly less, but the injuries were serious or even fatal.

When I asked where the driver of the truck and trailer was, the man standing nearby told me that he was the driver, and from the devastation at the scene, I was shocked that he was out of his truck and talking to me.

“The seat belt saved this guy; saved all three of them, most definitely,” Callister said.

The first crash caused a “huge cloud of dust” to be kicked up into the air as the truck and trailer were being ripped apart in the rollover, Callister said, which brought all northbound traffic on the interstate to a complete stop.

Meanwhile, in the outside lane, the driver of a semitractor-trailer approaching the gridlocked traffic was unable to stop in time to avoid hitting the vehicle directly in front of them, and instead moved to the inside lane, clipping a white Ford Escape in the process.

The impact sent the Ford skidding across both lanes of travel and off the interstate. Once the driver regained control, they were able to navigate back onto the asphalt where they stopped for help. The semi continued north on the interstate.

Callister said the semi driver may not have even realized he hit anything, which is why he continued on without stopping. The Ford sustained damage to the passenger’s side of the vehicle, but no injuries were reported.

A BMW sustains extensive damage following a crash on Interstate 15 in Mohave County, Ariz., April 28, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

Less than 2 hours later, a single-vehicle crash was reported near mile marker 19 on southbound I-15 involving a 2018 white BMW driven by a 56-year-old woman.

The BMW struck the concrete median and was thrown back across both lanes of traffic before striking the guardrail on the outside shoulder, which is where the vehicle came to rest.

According to witnesses at the scene, Callister said, the BMW was traveling “at a high rate of speed” just prior to the crash.

While speaking with the driver, troopers detected “a strong odor of alcohol” coming from the woman, who also showed “signs and symptoms of impairment,” Callister said.

A preliminary test conducted at the scene showed a blood alcohol level of .212, Callister said, which is more than double the legal limit in Arizona.

The driver was arrested and booked into the Mesquite Detention Center in Nevada on suspicion of DUI, while the BMW sustained significant damage in the crash and was towed from the roadway and impounded by police.

And the crashes just kept coming,” Callister said.

The fourth crash was reported at 11:40 p.m. MST and involved two vehicles – a full-size pickup truck pulling a trailer and a Nissan Sentra.

Troopers found no one injured at the scene and were told the pickup was heading north on I-15 in the inside lane at 75 mph when it came up behind the slower-moving Sentra, striking the back of the passenger vehicle. The impact sent both vehicles skidding off the road.

“Both inattention and fatigue were factors in this crash,” Callister said.

The driver of the pickup told troopers he was not paying close attention to traffic due to fatigue and did not realize the speed variance between the vehicles in time to avoid the crash.

The driver of the pickup was cited for driving at a speed not reasonable or prudent for conditions, Callister said.

Emergency personnel from Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District also responded to assist with the crashes.

This report is based on statements from police and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.  

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • Carpe Diem April 29, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    Yee HAW!!! Giddy up! BTW seeing a lot more road rashy drivers lately. Is it just me?

    • comments April 29, 2018 at 4:54 pm

      road rashy?

      • mesaman April 29, 2018 at 8:36 pm

        Not careful reporting in this news item. Milepost one is hardly in the gorge at MP 1 with another dozen miles before entering it. And this one which I paraphrased; the pickup truck that struck the Ford was driven driven by a woman and her 2 year old daughter. Both of them? I don’t think that’s what you meant, was it?

  • Ali April 29, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    Glad no one was injured.

  • DB April 29, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    It looks more like a plane crash than auto related! I have a plane to catch at LAS next month and am going down there the night before. Stuck in the Gorge? Been there, done that.

  • asianspa April 29, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    People seem to think they are trained racecar drivers as soon as they get in the gorge…. No need to fly , you are not that important, you are just another minimum wage working class nobody so slow down and buckle up.

  • LunchboxHero April 30, 2018 at 9:26 am

    I wonder if that last driver is one of those nitwits who “make no apologies” for driving 75 through the gorge. It’s so, so foolish to exceed the speed limit in the gorge, and is such a shame when it takes something like this to get people to learn. Thank goodness no one was killed!

  • Mike P April 30, 2018 at 9:32 am

    “Meanwhile, in the outside lane, the driver of a semitractor-trailer approaching the gridlocked traffic was unable to stop in time to avoid hitting the vehicle directly in front of them”
    Regardless of the situation, this means the semi was traveling at an unsafe speed and following too closely.

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