Seizure leads to crash in Gorge; holiday traffic backed up for miles

Traffic backed up close to the scene of a single vehicle crash on southbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 23 in the Virgin River Gorge, Mohave County, Ariz., November 26, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. — A driver crashed after veering through both lanes of holiday traffic, hitting two guardrails before the car came to rest in a dangerous curve in the Virgin River Gorge Saturday afternoon. Traffic was impeded for more than an hour.

A red Honda Pilot contributes to traffic delays after crashing on southbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 23 in the Virgin River Gorge, Mohave County, Ariz., November 26, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Cathy Eberhart Barber, St. George News
A red Honda Pilot contributes to traffic delays after crashing on southbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 23 in the Virgin River Gorge, Mohave County, Ariz., November 26, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Cathy Eberhart Barber, St. George News

Just after 2 p.m. officers and emergency personnel were dispatched to a single vehicle crash on Interstate 15 southbound near mile marker 23, Arizona Department of Public Safety Trooper Tom Callister said.

Upon arrival, officers found a red Honda Pilot blocking the right hand lane of the Interstate with a woman and two children inside. The driver told officers that her two children were uninjured and that she sustained only minor injuries during the crash.

The woman told officers she was heading south on the Interstate in the right hand lane when she experienced a seizure, causing her to lose control of the vehicle.

Once the seizure started, the car veered far to the left, striking the median before it bounced off and was sent back toward the right of the roadway. The car then passed through both lanes of traffic a second time and hit the guardrail to the right before it came to a rest in the right hand lane, completely blocking traffic.

“The car started to veer off the roadway near a substantial curve in the road,” Callister said, “and by the time it eventually stopped it was in the middle of the curve, which was a dangerous spot.”

The woman was checked by EMT from Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District but declined transport to the hospital, Callister said.

“Seat belts helped to reduce the extent of the injuries significantly, considering the magnitude of this collision,” the trooper said.

The driver was issued a citation for making an unsafe lane change, Callister said.

With the right lane completely blocked, traffic backed up quickly, Callister said, primarily due to the holiday traffic which increased the number of vehicles on the road.

The series of impacts on both sides of the interstate caused the front axle of the Honda to crack in half and split off of the SUV, making it impossible to move the car out of the right lane to free up traffic.

The scene of the single vehicle crash on southbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 23 in the Virgin River Gorge, Mohave County, Ariz., November 26, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
The scene of the single vehicle crash on southbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 23 in the Virgin River Gorge, Mohave County, Ariz., November 26, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Making matters worse, the wrecker that was called in to tow the disabled vehicle from the roadway was also stuck in the traffic, unable to get around the miles of backed up traffic.

After more than an hour, the tow truck arrived on scene and was able to remove the damaged Honda from the roadway, clearing it up for traffic.

With the right lane reopened, traffic began to move slowly through the curve but did not clear quickly, and it took a significant amount of time before it returned to a normal flow.

“That’s one thing about traffic,” Callister said, “it not only affects the car that’s involved, it affects everyone behind that driver  and this was a mess.”

Arizona Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol Division, Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District and Utah Department of Transportation’s Incident Management Team responded to the scene.

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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Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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

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6 Comments

  • .... November 27, 2016 at 2:42 am

    She had a seizure and the only action taken was to cite her for an illegal Lane change ?

  • Robert November 27, 2016 at 7:38 am

    As a retired LEO, all I will say is this, “The driver was issued a citation for making an unsafe lane change”, is pure BS. A decent officer will seldom, if ever, issue a citation for any infraction resulting from a medical situation. So glad I am no longer a part of this “new” breed of LEO’s

    • Kristi November 27, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking the same thing. Az highway patrol are the worst! I got a ticket for having my windows tinted to dark several yrs back, but the real kicker was I lived in Las Vegas, Nv. He tried to tell me it didn’t matter, oh yeah I fought the law and I won. He left the court house with his tail between his legs. The judge rimmed him a new one and asked him where he got off telling people their tint is illegal if they don’t live in Az. Ah it was a great day. So my point is Az Highway patrol will give tickets to meet their quotas no matter what time of the month it is…

  • Rainbow Dash November 27, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    To the driver:
    If you truly had a seizure, you need to give up your driver license. You are susceptible to seizures that impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely and thus pose a serious danger to yourself and others by continuing to drive.

    A seizure is a very scary experience for all involved (victims and bystanders) so, in the unlikely scenario that you did have a seizure, it was not your first one.

    Most likely you didn’t have a seizure though; most likely you’ve read stories about people with medical conditions getting out of traffic citations and made up that story in the minutes before officers arrived -in hopes that the same would happen to you- instead of the truth that you were paying attention to something other than the road ahead of you. Since that is the more plausible scenario, you should be glad you got off with just a traffic citation.

    • Christmas Bob November 28, 2016 at 1:22 am

      seizure disorders are about the only thing i can think of that actually come with driving restrictions in most states, but that 96yr old granny that just had cataract surgery, and has the reflexes of a near frozen snail is perfectly fine to drive in eyes of the law

      • Christmas Bob November 28, 2016 at 1:24 am

        so yea, if u have seizures uncontrolled… get off the roads

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