Construction workers scramble to escape path of erratic driver

ST. GEORGE — A construction crew escaped injury after an alert St. George Police officer used his lights and siren to warn the men that an erratic driver was barreling toward them as they worked in a restricted construction zone on Interstate 15 Saturday evening.

The 84-year-old driver narrowly missed the construction crew who quickly scattered as they looked up right before the man crashed his vehicle into a parked work truck.

Traffic is backed up for more than a mile at the scene of a crash involving a reportedly erratic, elderly driver on I-15 Saturday, St. George, Utah, March 25, 2017 | Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News

“Thankfully none of the guys working out here were hit or injured,” said Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Grant Hintze, who responded to the crash site.

Nearly 10 construction workers were toiling on the interstate road improvement project near Exit 4 between Brigham Road in Bloomington and the Dixie Drive Interchange at the time of the 5:30 p.m. crash.

Arriving officers found an injured man inside a silver Chrysler 4-door passenger car that was crushed into the rear bumper of a white work truck, Hintze said.

Emergency medical personnel also arrived and checked the man for injuries. He was transported in stable condition to Dixie Regional Medical Center for evaluation.

The incident first came to the attention of police shortly after 5 p.m. when the St. George Communications Center began receiving 911 calls reporting an erratic driver headed north on I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge, Hintze said.

Numerous emergency responders tend to the scene of a crash that sent an elderly driver to the hospital. A construction crew working nearby escaped injury because of an alert St. George Police officer, according to a Utah Highway Patrol trooper, St. George, Utah, March 25, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

A St. George Police officer was dispatched and within a few minutes spotted the Chrysler northbound on I-15 with the first reporting witness traveling directly behind the vehicle and still on the phone with 911.

As the officer approached the Chrysler with his emergency lights and siren on, he tried to get the driver’s attention. However, before he could motion for the driver to pull over the driver swerved his vehicle toward the patrol car, Hintze said, forcing the officer off the roadway.

The Chrysler then veered to the left before it crashed through the safety cones and entered the construction zone situated between the north and southbound lanes of I-15. A road crew was working less than a mile ahead, the trooper said.

“It was the officer’s lights and sirens that alerted these guys that a car was coming their way,” Hintze said, “and once they looked up they all started running.”

Seconds later the Chrysler crashed into the rear of one of several trucks parked in the area where the crew had just been working. The Chrysler was extensively damaged and towed away while the pickup truck remained in the construction area at the time of this report.

Numerous responders tended to the scene and traffic was backed up in both directions for more than a mile. In less than 30 minutes traffic began slowly moving through the area. Traffic returned to normal within an hour, the trooper said.

The Utah Highway Patrol, St. George Police Department, St. George Fire Department and Gold Cross Ambulance responded and tended to the large 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, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

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4 Comments

  • knobe March 26, 2017 at 9:39 am

    The high percentage of elderly in Washington County and the Minimal alternative transportation options means these type of events will become more common .
    There are now tho more express shuttles running the I – 15 route between Idaho & Las Vegas so maybe more people will start booking them ?

  • Proud Rebel March 26, 2017 at 11:47 am

    I’m betting the driver had “a medical condition,” of some kind or other. Even though it would affect me, I’d like to see seniors over 65 have to take a road test to renew their licenses.
    Pulling someone’s driver’s license means depriving people of their basic ability to move about as they want. And it is a terrible thing to have to do.
    Until you look at how much more terrible it can be to allow someone with deteriorating eyesight, hearing, coordination, and quite possible mental acuity to continue driving.

  • ScanMeister March 26, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Unfortunately some are taking prescription drugs and should not be driving. Docs really load up the elderly with meds! I agree with Proud Rebel that at a certain age some additional testing……70…..75 but absolutely at 80

  • Tom March 28, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Here are fatal crashes by age group, The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

    From The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (Seniors numbers are fairly low)

    In the United States, teenagers drive less than all but the oldest people, but their numbers of crashes and crash deaths are disproportionately high. 1 In the United States, the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-19 year-olds is nearly 3 times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over. Risk is highest at ages 16-17. In fact, the fatal crash rate per mile driven is nearly twice as high for 16-17 year-olds as it is for 18-19 year-olds.

    Passenger vehicle drivers in fatal crashes by age and crash type, 2015
    Single vehicle Multiple vehicle All crashes
    Number % Number % Number %
    16-19 1,256 43 1,642 57 2,898 100
    20-24 2,375 46 2,838 54 5,213 100
    25-29 1,863 43 2,514 57 4,377 100
    30-59 6,511 37 11,112 63 17,623 100
    60-69 1,334 34 2,554 66 3,888 100
    70+ 1,193 31 2,700 69 3,893 100

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