Fatal accident on Red Cliffs Drive

Stock image; photo does not represent the accident in the attached report | Image by St. George News

ST. GEORGE –  A single-vehicle accident Tuesday night put one young woman in the hospital, and left another deceased.

Whitney Kopenhefer, 21, and Johanna Crawford, 22, both of St. George, were traveling southbound on Red Cliffs Drive in a sedan near the East Ridge Drive intersection when the accident occurred around 10:30 p.m.

St. George Police Sgt. Craig Harding was among the officers to respond to the scene and said the sedan was possibly speeding  and the driver  apparently failed to turn as the road curves to the right on Red Cliffs Drive (left for southbound traffic) near the Outlets at Zion strip mall.

Additional information released by the St. George Police Department indicated the car went off the road near East Ridge Drive and appears to have hit a traffic pole, gone through the fence that separates the road from Interstate 15, and struck a concrete drainage structure, and then rolled several times.

Kopenhefer was pronounced dead at the scene and Crawford was taken to Dixie Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.  The police currently do not if the women were wearing seatbelts.

According to the police, preliminary findings indicate speed and alcohol may be contributing factors in the crash. The investigation is ongoing.

St. George News Assistant Editor Mori Kessler contributed to this article.

Updated at 12:40 p.m., Oct. 16.

Ed. Note: It has been brought up in comments that the turn on Red Cliff’s Drive near the East Ridge Drive intersection curves to the left. This is true for southbound travel. For northbound travelers the road curves to the right.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @mflynnSTGN

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.



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  • San October 16, 2013 at 10:53 am

    By the term highway do you mean I-15? I didn’t think it was that close to the freeway but Telegraph is the only road I can think of that would qualify as a highway. Confused….

    • Mori Kessler October 16, 2013 at 10:58 am

      It is I-15, we have clarified that part of the article to avoid further confusion. Thank you for pointing it out.

    • jam October 16, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Highway. ..freeway don’t be silly

  • Lindsey October 16, 2013 at 11:52 am

    If she was traveling south the road curves to the left not the right and you spelled instate instead of interstate. I love that you are on top of getting news to us but please check your spelling and descriptive info better. I always find the typos in everything I read please don’t take it personally.

  • Rebecca October 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    There may be confusion because you mentioned in the article that the driver failed to curve with the road as the road curves to the right but in actuality the road curves left and she failed to veer left.

  • newsjunkie October 16, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    So if speed and alcohol were factors and the passenger died will the driver be charged with any crimes. This is a very sad situation

  • My Evil Twin October 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    What we have here, is “FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE!” Or rather, failure to comprehend what is being published.

  • michelle October 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Even with typos this article is easy to understand, if you chat figure it out that’s your problem! Sucks to be so miserable you have to complain about every little detail. A poor girl died and another was injured, very sad!

  • Cristy October 16, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Seriously people! We have a death by the roadside and all you care about is grammatical errors!? Good gravy! Get over yourselves! How about asking more important questions like; What are the surviving girl’s chances of continuing to survive? Is there a relief fund we can contribute to for families of the victims? Where can we send condolences to the family of the deceased?

    • amanda October 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      cristy i know this family and the girl who died was a good friend of mine ill post if there is anything on a fund or where condolences can be sent

    • Dan Lester October 16, 2013 at 9:26 pm

      The article said the one who lived had “non-life threatening injuries”.

  • Ashley Cooper October 16, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I am very saddened by this accident I work for Chili’s and this accident happened so close to us! We Giveback events at Chili’s almost every week and We would love to help the family of the victims! Email me please I don’t want to put my number on the sight. Please let us help!
    Thank you.

  • Festus October 16, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Sad deal for sure but they ultimately made the horrible decision to drive impaired and they payed the consequences… I’m just glad they didn’t hurt or kill anyone else!

  • Meadow October 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Whitney I love you. You have no idea how much grief your family is feeling. Wish you could come back

  • Tawnie October 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Keeping your family in my prayers. say hi to Andrew for me 🙂

  • SW October 16, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    The road (red cliffs drive) curves to the left. If you are turning onto East Ridge, then you would be in a turn lane there. That being said, this is a horrible sad accident. I am glad that more people weren’t injured but I am sure the woman who passed will be greatly missed. that is not the best area for traffic at the best of times and I wish they wouldn’t assume that alcohol or driver error was the cause without looking into it.

  • N/A October 16, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    I happen to know Whitney. She was a bright, loving, beautiful girl! Everytime she walked in a room it just lit up! She was always happy and spunky!! She will be missed greatly and by so many! My condulances to both families! Rest in peace Whitney!

  • N/A October 16, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Some of the people in this town amaze me. The arguing over spelling and things you simply read! It does not say anywhere that alcohol was for sure involved. Its suspected!! Just as in any other accident. If your not paying your condulances to the familys you simply shouldn’t comment at all!

  • :( October 17, 2013 at 4:13 am

    Ok we have a death here of a very sweet fun loving girl and all you are worried about is which way the road actually curves, spell checks and what not!!!
    Whitney was a fun girl that I had the very special opportunity to get to know. She is loved by many and will be missed.
    Whitney we love you and will miss you!! R.I.P.

  • Sandie October 17, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I don’t know Whitney, but my prayers go out to her family and friends.

    And all the bickering over details and such is ridiculous. A young lady lost her life and her family lost someone they very much love and will never see again in this world. Who cares if there is a typo or grammer mishap?

  • david cox October 17, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Hare Krsna it is sad indeed but her soul will live on. The soul is eternal and therefore can not be slain. When the body is dead or useless the soul will transmigrate to another bodily form, this is the cycle of birth and death it is eternally going on in this way, It is said that not a blade of grass moves without the will of the lord so everything happens for a reason, its all part of gods plan. it is out of our control, we can only pray. I knew whitney very little but she shined just like the sun and I know she will be missed but know that she eternally lives on in spirit and within our hearts may Krsna guide her soul and may love be the wings that carry her. I apologise if I offend. Chant hare krsna and be happy with love sincerely Mac

  • sadiesmith October 17, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    News reporting demands accuracy to remain credible. Pointing out discrepancies and spelling errors doesn’t take away from tragic traffic accidents like this one that result loss of life. Two different things here, people.

  • N/a October 20, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    I have a strong feeling drugs and alcohol play a huge factor in this accident so sad… I know them the girl who passed…. I am so glad no body else was injured due to poor judgement…

  • Matthew Lewis December 25, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Whether alcohol was involved or not, It is not anyones business but the police investigators to determine that… I’ve known both of these girls since middle school, and I think its downright sad when people try to make their own assumptions about what happened that night.. The fact is, YOU DONT KNOW! Just remember that this is someones friend, someones daughter, and someones sister! And you are spreading rumors over the internet about someone who has passed away and someone who had to watch their friend die… If you have so much knowledge as to accidents, then get off your ass and join the police force.

  • Maren Mixon July 17, 2014 at 1:39 am

    I agree with Matthew Lewis.

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