VIRGIN RIVER GORGE, Ariz. — A woman from Alberta, Canada, was killed Wednesday evening when she got out of her car on Interstate 15 to check on a blown tire and was struck by a motorist coming out of a blind curve. Three other people were injured and transported to the hospital.
Just after 5 p.m. officers and emergency personnel were dispatched to a crash involving two vehicles with the possibility of one person being struck by a passing vehicle.
The incident occurred on I-15 southbound at the bottom of the Virgin River Gorge near mile marker 13, Sgt. John Bottoms of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said.
When officers and responders arrived they found a silver minivan stopped in the left hand lane, and a Toyota Camry that was severely damaged and blocking the right hand lane, Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire Department Captain Damon Jackson said.
Officers and emergency medical personnel found one woman lying on the roadway several feet from the minivan. She appeared to be severely injured and later died from those injuries at the scene, Jackson said.
The man sitting in the front passenger seat of the minivan was also injured. He reported pain in his neck and suffered cuts to his hands and face when the side window of the minivan shattered, Bottoms said. The man was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center, along with his daughter who reported she was uninjured but wanted to remain with her father.
The couple in the Toyota sustained minor injuries, primarily from the car’s windshield that shattered during the crash as it sprayed glass fragments onto their face and arms, Jackson said. They were also transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center.
From information obtained at the scene officers were able to determine that the woman driving the minivan either hit or clipped the center median. The impact damaged the minivan’s front wheel and blew the tire, Bottoms said.
The woman stopped in the left hand lane and got out of her vehicle to inspect the tire. As she came around to the rear of the vehicle she was struck by a motorist who was also traveling in the left hand lane as it came out of a curve in the road, Jackson said.
“The area where the woman stopped was not only in the fast lane,” the captain said, “but it’s also a blind curve, so the vehicle coming up behind her would have little warning and a hard time seeing her until she was directly in front of them.”
The driver of the passenger car hit the rear bumper of the minivan before hitting the woman, who was launched onto the hood and then the windshield of the Toyota before hitting the roadway, Jackson said. The windshield shattered on impact, showering the man and his passenger inside the minivan with glass.
“The man in the Toyota swerved to the right in an attempt to avoid hitting the woman,” Bottoms said, “but despite his efforts he struck her before hitting the barrier to the right of the interstate, and the impact sent his car to the middle of the right hand lane where it stopped.”
Both lanes were completely blocked after the crash. Once emergency vehicles began to arrive the area was cordoned off to tend to the injured and to allow police to investigate the cause of the crash, Jackson said.
Bottoms added that the woman stopped near Bridge No. 2, where there is no shoulder or emergency lane.
According to one witness, Bueno Adrian, traffic was backed up more than six miles by 5:30 p.m., which he observed while heading north on the interstate on his way to St. George. A video of the traffic congestion is included in this story.
Additionally, the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah Department of Transportation’s Incident Management Team set up a roadblock on I-15 southbound at exit 27 near Black Rock Road to divert traffic away from the Gorge and to reduce the backup that was growing to more than 7 miles long, Bottoms said.
The right hand lane was reopened after the Toyota was pulled over to the left hand lane, leaving the right hand lane cleared for traffic to resume.
By 8:45 p.m. the scene was cleared and both southbound lanes were open for traffic.
Citations have not been issued, due to the ongoing investigation.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety, Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire Department and ambulance, along with the Arizona Department of Transportation responded and tended to the scene. The Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah Department of Transportation’s Incident Management Team assisted with traffic control at Exit 27.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or first responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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