SUV rolls in Gorge after losing rear wheel

MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. — A single vehicle rollover in the Virgin River Gorge slowed northbound traffic and at times stopped it entirely on Interstate 15 Tuesday.

A black Ford Expedition rolled in the Virgin River Gorge Tuesday but injuries to the occupants were minor. Traffic, however, was slowed or stopped for over an hour, Mohave County, Arizona, May 24, 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
A black Ford Expedition rolled in the Virgin River Gorge Tuesday but injuries to the occupants were minor. Traffic, however, was slowed or stopped for over an hour, Mohave County, Arizona, May 24, 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers were dispatched to the scene at about 12:45 p.m. (MST), 1:45 p.m. (MDT).

On arrival, troopers found a black 1997 Ford Expedition had rolled in the inside lane of traffic at Arizona mile marker 22 and was partially blocking the outside lane as well.

“They were northbound in the left traffic lane,” Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Bottoms said. “The driver behind them noticed that the right rear tire…started wobbling a little bit.”

The wheel kept wobbling, getting worse and worse until the whole wheel flew off, Bottoms said. The rotor hit the ground, the driver lost control, and the Expedition hit the center wall, rolling over on its roof.

The driver, 20-year-old Alexander Moy of Long Beach, California, and his passengers, both family members, were not seriously hurt in the accident. They all sustained minor injuries, mostly lacerations from the broken glass as they crawled out of the Expedition, Bottoms said.

Traffic was affected for about an hour on the northbound lanes, causing a backup that reached close to the Cedar Pocket rest area.

While the outside lane remained open, the Expedition came to rest slightly in that lane, so passing vehicles had to merge a little onto the shoulder to pass the wreck.

At times, traffic was stopped to facilitate clearing of the damaged vehicle. Lanes were clear approximately 75 minutes later.

“No real driver error,” Bottoms said, adding all occupants were wearing seat belts.

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

Email: rwayman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @NewsWayman

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

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6 Comments

  • ladybugavenger May 24, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    That’s some scary stuff. I’m glad they are ok and wearing their seat belts. Of course, California has had a seat belt law for a long time, it becomes a habit to buckle up.

  • fun bag May 25, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    when a wheel comes loose on the hub it makes a very loud and horrible noise along with vibrating badly. WOULD BE VERY HARD TO IGNORE IT. HOW LONG DID THEY DRIVE ON IT LIKE THIS? AND DID THEY EVEN SLOW DOWN?

  • fun bag May 25, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    I’M GUESSING NOT SINCE THEY WERE IN THE PASSING LANE. UGH! PEOPLE, COME ON NOW…

  • ladybugavenger May 25, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Thank you for the info fun bag. I’ve not experienced a wheel falling off. I don’t know if I would have known where the loud noise is coming from but it’s always good to pull over if your car makes a loud noise and vibrates ( if it’s not normal for your vehicle to do these things lol)

    • fun bag May 25, 2016 at 6:37 pm

      yep, i’ve had lugs left loose on a wheel. noticed immediately. the wheel goes CLANK CLANK CLANK. Not something someone with a brain will ignore, and drive in the fast lane no less.

  • .... May 26, 2016 at 6:14 am

    I have the same problem when I take my dog for a walk. you can hear his lug nuts go. Clank .Clank Clank

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