Wind whips 3rd trailer of FedEx semi-tractor on its side; NB I-15 in Gorge closes for hours

MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. — Traffic stopped for nearly two hours and northbound Interstate 15 through the Virgin River Gorge was completely shut down after a semi-tractor triple trailer caught by wind, had its third trailer over onto its side.

At approximately 7:30 p.m. MST officers were dispatched to a reported rollover on Interstate 15 northbound near mile marker 14.  As emergency personnel responded they found a FedEx semi-tractor triple trailer disabled in the outside lane with one trailer laying on its side.

Traffic backed up for miles after semi -tractor trailer loses one trailer in a rollover on Interstate 15 northbound, Virgin River Gorge, Ariz. June 18, 2016 |Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Traffic backed up for miles after semi -tractor trailer loses one trailer in a rollover on Interstate 15 northbound, Virgin River Gorge, Ariz. June 18, 2016 |Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The semi-tractor trailer was heading northbound on Interstate 15 when the wind caught the third trailer of the semi, lifting it off the road, Arizona Department of Public Safety Trooper Tom Callister said.

As the trailer left the roadway, he said, the wind whipped it off the ground several more times before the side of the trailer hit the median of the Interstate, causing only the third trailer to roll, while leaving the first two trailers sitting upright.

“The hinges that link these trailers together are designed in a way that even if one trailer rolls over,” Callister said, “it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other two will roll as well.”

FedEx semi-tractor trailer loses third trailer to rollover on on Interstate 15 northbound, Virgin River Gorge, Ariz. June 18, 2016 |Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
FedEx semi-tractor trailer loses third trailer to rollover on on Interstate 15 northbound, Virgin River Gorge, Ariz. June 18, 2016 |Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The damaged trailer blocked both northbound lanes of travel and traffic came to a halt.

At that point Interstate 15 northbound was completely closed, and traffic was diverted to Highway 91 to allow crews to tow the trailer and clear debris from the roadway.

Motorists driving behind the semi when the trailer rolled  remained stopped on Interstate 15 northbound for nearly two hours, Callister said.

“The drivers who found themselves stuck behind the disabled semi were pretty good about it,” he said, “and we didn’t have any problems.”

One lane of travel was reopened just after 9 p.m. when emergency crews were able to hook the third trailer to a tow truck and drag it to the outside lane of the Interstate.

Soon after the traffic that was backed up for miles began to move, another lane opened within 30 minutes, allowing the backlog of vehicles to make their way past the disabled trailer and emergency vehicles.

The scene was cleared just before 11 p.m.

No injuries were reported.

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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7 Comments

  • ladybugavenger June 19, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Good thing I got my package. Seriously, the 3 trailers is dangerous. The other day I saw 2 fish tailing on the 15. I thought it was the driver. But I see it’s hard to keep 3 trailer in control especially in the wind.

    • .... June 19, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      the triple trailer is all about nothing but the bottom line. .. $

    • DB June 19, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      It doesn’t quite apply to this story, but I remember reading that the ‘triples’ can only travel certain routes and enter/exit the Interstate at certain points. Maybe someone with trucking experience can enlighten me. I once saw a ‘triple’ working it’s way through the Bloomington roundabout, very entertaining!

  • knobe June 19, 2016 at 8:05 am

    I’ve now lived in Washington Country for about 10 years and
    do Not remember seeing so many news reports of flipped semis &/ or their trailers from wind before .
    Are More happening or did I just miss them in the news in previous years /

    ?

  • Anejo June 19, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Is it the wind? Or the speed?

    Those guys are almost flying through that Gorge.

  • Proud Rebel June 19, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    In the business, a set of triples are called “wiggle wagons.” If you don’t know where that comes from, just watch them wiggle their way down the road. The third trailer is called a “kite.” And this is a perfect example of why it is called that.
    Oh yeah, FedEx is also called FedWrex. These guys are on an unbelievable tight schedule.
    …. is exactly right in his post. Triples are about nothing but the bottom line.
    They are outlawed in the majority of states. They require overlength permits to operate, and those oversize permits cost big bucks, therefore, state governments love them.

    • DB June 20, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      Thanks for your insight. Next time I pass a ‘wiggle wagon’ in the gorge, I’ll do it very quickly and be done with it…

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