Semitrailer crashes down 30-foot embankment off I-15

The first of two tow trucks called in to retrieve semitractor-trailer that crashed down 30-foot embankment on Interstate 15 northbound at Arizona mile marker 5, Mohave County, Arizona, April 19, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. — A blown front tire caused a semitractor-trailer to plummet down a 30-foot embankment off northbound Interstate 15 about 4 miles south of Littlefield Tuesday night where heavy highway construction work is ongoing.

Semitractor-trailer that crashed down 30-foot embankment on Interstate 15 northbound at Arizona mile marker 5, Mohave County, Arizona, April 19, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Semitractor-trailer that crashed down 30-foot embankment on Interstate 15 northbound at Arizona mile marker 5, Mohave County, Arizona, April 19, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Just after 6:30 p.m. emergency responders received report of a semitractor-trailer at the bottom of the embankment at Arizona mile marker 4.7 of I-15. Officers found the semi at the bottom of the ravine with a driver that was uninjured, Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Bottoms said.

The driver, Moe Villalta, was northbound on the Interstate approaching mile marker 4.7 when the front tire blew out, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.

As he tried to regain control, the semi veered to the right and became lodged in the side of the guardrail and began skidding alongside until the guardrail failed, Villalta said. It then crashed through the barrier and launched down the embankment.

Villalta kept the semitractor-trailer from overturning or skidding out of control as it careened down the hill, he said, until it finally came to a stop at the bottom of the ravine, upright and without further damage.

Emergency crews near semitrailer after it went off the road and landed 30-feet down an embankment on Interstate 15 northbound mile marker 5, Mohave County, Arizona, Apr. 19, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Emergency crews near semitractor-trailer after it went off the road and landed 30-feet down an embankment on Interstate 15 northbound at Arizona mile marker 5, Mohave County, Arizona, April 19, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

“I tried to use my experience behind the wheel to stay calm,” he said, “but it all happened in less than 5 seconds.”

Bottoms said, “The driver did a remarkable job not rolling the vehicle over as it went down the embanked shoulder.”

That particular area of Interstate 15 was under heavy construction at the time of the accident, so highway workers checked on the driver, helped clear the debris strewn onto the roadway from the semi crashing through the guardrail, Bottoms said. They were also on hand to assist when the tow trucks arrived to winch the truck up the embankment.

Initially the traffic came to a halt immediately after the accident and was impacted for several hours following as emergency personnel tended to the scene.

Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire Department responded to the accident; the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Fisher Company and S.W. Asphalt and Paving were working nearby and also rendered assistance at the scene.

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: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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