ST. GEORGE — Thanks to kindness from strangers, a New Zealand family visiting the area discovered that driving a rental car and being involved in a two-car collision could also make for some great vacation memories.
No serious injuries were reported.
Just after 3:30 p.m. Wednesday emergency personnel were dispatched to a two-car collision on St. George Boulevard near 100 East, St. George Police Officer Jamison Hale said.
Upon arrival officers found a gold Toyota Corolla in the center median of the Boulevard and a white Jeep Grand Cherokee on 100 East.
The Toyota was driven by an elderly woman who reported having chest pains when responders first arrived. She was quickly taken into an ambulance and monitored by emergency medical personnel.
The family of four in the Jeep reported they were uninjured in the crash, Hale said.
The man driving the Jeep told officers he and his family were visiting from New Zealand and were heading east on St. George Boulevard toward Interstate 15 when the crash occurred.
As it turned out the New Zealand tourists were on their way to a lodge they had reserved in Bryce Canyon, intent on hiking through the park the following day.
Just as the man driving the Jeep approached 100 East, the woman driving the Toyota crossed over into his lane of travel. In trying to avoid the crash he slammed on his brakes. Despite his efforts the two vehicles collided in the middle of the boulevard.
The impact sent both vehicles spinning in the intersection until the Jeep came to rest facing south on 100 East. The Toyota was launched onto the center median of St. George Boulevard and wound up facing east.
The woman in the Toyota reported that she was stopped at the corner of 100 East and St. George Boulevard waiting to cross over and head south. Just then another vehicle pulled up alongside to the right of her vehicle, seemingly to make a right hand turn, Hale said.
At that point the view of the Toyota driver was blocked, so she never saw the Jeep as she started through the intersection until it was too late.
“We had just rented the car at the airport,” the man driving the Jeep said, “and were headed toward the freeway on our way to Bryce Canyon when this happened.”
The man was traveling with his wife and two young children from their home in New Zealand and said this was day five of their visit to the U.S.
Meanwhile, the elderly woman who reported having chest pains after the crash was being looked after by EMT’s while a family member came to pick her up, Hale said.
After a short time, Kenzie Truman, an employee of Stapley Pharmacy, made her way on foot to the stranded family, bringing bottles of water. Truman said she and the other employees at the pharmacy heard the crash, but initially thought the sound came from a delivery truck at another business nearby.
“When I saw them out there with their children I just thought they may need water,” Truman said. “It was hot and once I handed it to them I could tell they were visitors and I just wanted to make sure they had something to drink.”
Both vehicles sustained extensive damage and were towed from the scene. All vehicle occupants were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.
Once the scene was cleared St. George Police Officer David Slack called for a cab to take the now car-less family back to the St. George Regional Airport. A replacement vehicle was made available at Avis Rent-a-Car, once the company was advised of the crash, the New Zealand visitor said.
While the family waited for the cab to arrive Slack gave the two children a tour of his police car and explained what different objects were used for, showing them the police lights and other items of interest while the parents took pictures.
“They’ll have an unusual vacation story to tell when they get home,” their mother said, “they’ve never been in a police car.”
The St. George Police Department, St. George Fire Department and Gold Cross Ambulance responded and tended to the 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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