2 taken to hospital after wrong-way driver hits semi on I-15

A driver traveling the wrong way on I-15 hit a semitruck head-on, Washington, Utah, Aug. 1, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY – Two people were transported to the hospital in serious to critical condition Friday night after a car going the wrong way on southbound Interstate 15 crashed into an oncoming semitruck.

Around 8 p.m., the Utah Highway Patrol was alerted to a head-on collision between a semi and a passenger car on southbound I-15, at milepost 13 just south of the Exit 13 bridge.

Witnesses told UHP that the car was originally traveling in the northbound lane when it crossed over the median into the southbound lanes and then up part of the southbound exit ramp, then going back into the main southbound lane where it collided with a semitruck head-on, UHP Lt. Shawn Hinton said.

The semi driver saw the oncoming car early enough to start slowing his vehicle, Hinton said, but he was unable to avoid running into the car. The car caught fire after the impact, though the flames were quickly extinguished.

The car’s driver was identified as Cherlene Olaguez, 55, and UHP is investigating whether or not a preexisting medical condition may have been the cause of the crash. The car’s other passenger, an adult male described as being in his 40s or older, was not identified.

One of the car’s occupants was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center by ambulance while the other had to he extricated from the car and was taken to the hospital via Life Flight.

Both were listed as being in serious to critical condition, Hinton said.

The section of I-15 surrounding the accident was shut down and redirected though Exit 13 while responders tended to the scene.

Washington City Police and Fire departments assisted in the incident.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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16 Comments

  • bob August 1, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    drugs?

    • indy-vfr August 2, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      No, she probably attended the St George School of Driving!
      Nearly t-boned again today by one of the “great” St George drivers.

  • I_Drive August 1, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    I don’t have a $100, but this is a sure bet. Some … is going to find a way to blame the truck driver in the comments! I do certainly hope everyone pulls through okay.
    Ed. ellipsis.

    • bob August 2, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      I was actually going to blame Obama for this one… LETS NOT FORGET BENGHAZI!!!

      • indy-vfr August 2, 2014 at 4:45 pm

        Come on……it’s obviously Bush’s fault!!

    • Non truck driver August 2, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      It must have been the truck drivers fault! They can stop on a dime if they want.

  • Steve August 2, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Please note that that city is correctly referred to as Washington, not Washington City (despite the city administration recently trying to make it sound like a more important place). It has never been referred to as Washington City until recently, and that is based on old historical documents referring to Washington City in the same way that such documents refer to St. George City and Hurricane City. Because of a silly language usage mistake that makes them appear uneducated, the administration of the City of Washington has convinced local news outlets that are run by people who have moved here from elsewhere to call it Washington City, when locals know better. But the post office has not been swayed: It is still called the Washington, Utah post office.

    Washington is a great town! Don’t mess up its name.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic August 2, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Bless your heart, Steve – I am pretty sure you and I have discussed this about a year or so ago. While we appreciate, I especially, your preference for the actual legal name on the Articles of Incorporation or other founding documents, the fact remains that the very name Washington is an invitation to confusion to readers. We have sizeable readership from beyond Southern Utah, we choose to use Washington City to differentiate between Washington D.C., Washington state, to name the obvious two.
      I am so sorry it bothers you so, I don’t anticipate altering our style choice though.
      ST. GEORGE NEWS | STGnews.com
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

      • DB August 2, 2014 at 3:16 pm

        …and to top it off, we live in Washington County. I agree with you, Joyce.

    • My Evil Twin August 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      Steve, get a grip!

    • bob August 2, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      LOL steve needs a hobby or a more worthwhile crusade

  • SSfreeze August 2, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Way to conform Joyce!
    I still like the St. George City News though.

  • KanabCowgirl August 2, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Hubby and I were going past this as life flight was kicking up the dirt getting ready to land. Very sobering!

  • Brian August 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Please stop, everyone. That is my Prius on the left in the second photo. This woman almost took my life, the life of the woman behind me and her two children and the three motorcyclists that were speeding past to avoid being killed by us trying to avoid being killed by her. The truck driver had nothing to do with this other than stopping her from killing more people behind him. That poor man will have to live with this the rest of his life. This was not an accident. She took aim at my car as she entered the the southbound lanes from the field to the right of us (after crossing the median and re-entering into our lane) and after I swerved to avoid her seeming purposeful aim, she aimed straight on to the truck. I will never get the image of her Buick coming at me or her face staring right at mine out of my mind. It was the saddest and scariest day of my entire life and I am only grateful to be alive. If she survived, I only hope she finds peace in her heart and her life.

  • Chris August 4, 2014 at 10:33 am

    I do not believe it was a accident nor a medical condition accident, I was traveling south bound an was the last car to pass her before she came out of the dust cloud in the center median… She swerved all the way to the right shoulder as if she was going to exit on the on ramp but suddenly jumped off the ramp back onto oncoming traffic… The passenger could have easily avoided The accident if it was a medical issue, I do agree the lady has problems an was set out to kill herself an whoever was in her path, the truck driver for sure saved the life of whoever was next headed under the bridge ! The rest of my drive home to San Diego made me feel super blessed an thankful to be alive

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