Rollover injures driver, takes out light pole on I-15

WASHINGTON CITY — A Washington City man was transported to the hospital after he rolled his car on Interstate 15, taking out a light pole and becoming trapped in the car. Authorities believe a medical condition may have contributed to the crash.

Emergency personnel assess scene of single-car rollover on I-15 southbound that took out a light and sent the driver to the hospital Sunday, Washington City, Utah, April 2, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Shortly after 2:30 p.m. emergency responders were dispatched to a rollover reported on Interstate 15 southbound near Exit 16 involving a black BMW 4-door passenger car carrying three occupants, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Brian Lacy said.

The initial report stated that one of the occupants was possibly trapped and needed to be extricated, however the individual was able to exit the car on their own while emergency personnel were en route.

Upon arrival officers found the BMW sitting upside down off of the right shoulder lane, several feet from the roadway, Lacy said, and a large freeway light pole laying several feet away with the light fixture nearby.

The two passengers told police it appeared that the 42-year-old driver may have had a seizure, Lacy said, which is what caused him to drive off of the road. The man was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center for evaluation, and only scrapes and bruises were reported by the passengers.

Witness statements indicate the man was heading south on Interstate 15 and as he approached Exit 16 “the driver had what appeared to be a seizure,” the trooper said.

The driver lost control of the car as it veered off to the right and left the roadway and hit a road sign before continuing up a 15-foot embankment, Lacy said. On the way down, the BMW struck the light pole, knocking it to the ground before the vehicle started to roll.

Traffic is backed up for miles after single-car rollover on I-15 southbound that took out a light and sent the driver to the hospital Sunday, Washington City, Utah, April 2, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

After rolling several feet, the car came to rest with all four wheels facing skyward.

“There had to be a great deal of speed to keep the car driving sideways on that embankment,” Lacy said, “and the light pole was actually uprooted from it’s base, which takes quite a bit of force.”

The passengers reportedly realized what was happening and tried to get control of the car, but the driver’s foot pushed the gas pedal down so everything happened very quickly at that point.

Traffic was diverted to the No. 1 southbound lane while responders cleared the wreckage, and after more than an hour both lanes were reopened for traffic.

The BMW sustained extensive damage and was subsequently towed from the scene.

Interstate 15 is equipped with interstate light poles, Todd Abbott, Utah Department of Transportation’s Incident Management Team manager said, which are designed to break away from their concrete bases if struck by a vehicle. The poles are designed that way to reduce the amount of injury to those inside of the vehicle, he said, but they still have to be strong enough to withstand a minimum of 60 mph winds.

“It still takes a great deal of force to knock it to the ground though,” Abbott said.

High-mast lighting is used on Interstate 15, which is a tall pole with lighting attached to the top pointing towards the ground and is standard on highways, freeways and interstates. The Utah Department of Transportation is responsible for lighting operations and maintenance on interstate highways and specific routes throughout the state

The Utah Highway Patrol, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Washington City Police and Hurricane Valley Fire and Rescue 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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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • utahdiablo April 2, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    We have very few I-15 Lights as it is here in southern Utah where this accident happened today, now one more less, we need more lighting installed between Exits 10, 13, and 16 Udot…

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