WASHINGTON COUNTY – An SUV went over a cliff sometime before 5:15 a.m. today in the hills of the Warner Valley area of Washington County, off a big mesa near the Washington and Hurricane city borders.
Capt. Josh Thayn of Washington City Fire and Public Safety said one female survivor placed a 911 call from a cell phone at 5:15 a.m.
“What we found,” Thayn said, “was that an SUV-type vehicle was four wheeling and left the roadway and rolled multiple times. There were ejections and two people were deceased on scene and one was alive and we life flighted (her) to Dixie Regional Medical Center.”
Thayn said the transported victim had neck and back injuries.
This was quite the intricate event, Thayn said. Because it was early morning, there was lack of light and it was very high up, it was hard to locate and difficult to get to. Responders had to four-wheel drive, hike, transverse down the mesa, employ minor high angle rescue techniques.
One of the deceased had to be extricated from the vehicle. The other was ejected, as was the survivor.
The response was a unified response command with Washington City Fire and Public Safety, Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Washington County Search and Rescue, Dixie Ambulance and Life Flight. Thayn said several times that everyone worked well together.
The vehicle has been left where it landed, some 200-300 feet off the mesa. It is on Bureau of Land Management land and Thayn said the BLM will deal with the vehicle. Early statements from the scene and by scanner identified the vehicle as a white jeep, but Thayn said the make and model are unknown.
Cause of the accident is under investigation.
UPDATE 4:20 p.m. Statement issued by Washington County Undersheriff Bart G. Bailey is set forth in its entirety as received, below:
At approximately 5:15 A.M. on 09/22/2012 Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies, Washington City Police Officers, Washington City Firefighters and BLM Rangers were dispatched on a single vehicle accident, off road, south of Washington Dam Road. The accident had been called in by one of the accident victims who was disoriented and unsure of their exact location. The location of the accident was discovered shortly after 6:00 A.M. It appeared that a single vehicle had gone over a cliff near Warner Valley. Washington County Search and Rescue and Lifeflight were called to assist. One male and two female accident victims were found. Deputies and Firefighters at the scene determined that two of the occupants of the vehicle were deceased. A third injured occupant was recovered by Search and Rescue and Washington City fire personnel and transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center by Lifeflight. The Utah State Medical Examiner’s office responded to the scene to determine cause of death. A Washington County Sheriff’s Office accident investigator is currently investigating the circumstances of the accident. Names of the surviving and deceased victims are being withheld pending identification and notifications of their families. Recovery of the accident vehicle will be coordinated through the BLM.
St. George News photographer Dave Amodt contributed to this story.
Updated in full: 1:14 p.m. Sept. 22, 2012, per interview with Thayn.
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