Heavy rains, hail trigger multiple crashes on interstate

Gold Honda passenger car sustains extensive damage during rollover on southbound I-15 near mile marker 35 in heavy rain Thursday, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 14, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Both sides of the interstate were littered with crashes and rollovers as motorists navigated through heavy rain and hail scattered throughout the I-15 corridor Thursday.

The first crash was reported shortly before noon on northbound I-15 near mile post 31 and, with emergency responders en route, a second crash was reported five miles away on the southbound side.

Black passenger vehicle on the southbound side of I-15 near mile marker 31 is damaged during crash in heavy rain Thursday, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 14, 2017 | Photo by Ron Chaffin, St. George News

The third crash, reported about 45 minutes later on the northbound side at mile post 33, involved a black Jeep SUV and a semitractor-trailer. No injuries were reported and the Jeep was towed from the scene.

The fourth crash was reported at 1:13 p.m. on southbound side at mile marker 22. It involved a white Toyota Highlander and a Subaru Outback, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Seth Spencer said.

As emergency personnel arrived, they found the overturned Toyota in the median, smashed into the cable barrier with the Subaru stopped nearby.

The Toyota driver, a 43-year-old woman from Colorado, and her five passengers were transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center with “fairly minor injuries,” Spencer said.

Through witness statements, officers determined that the Toyota was heading south when the driver lost control of the vehicle as it veered to the left toward the median.

White Toyota Highlander crashes into cable barrier on I-15 near mile marker 22 during heavy rain Thursday, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 14, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The SUV began to roll as it left the roadway and crashed into the cable barrier, sending debris flying forward into the northbound lanes. It came to rest upside-down smashed into the barrier.

Meanwhile, the Subaru was heading north and was struck by the flying debris, causing minor damage but leaving the driver uninjured.

“The man in the Subaru said that the Highlander would have been in his lap if that cable barrier wasn’t there, so it made all of the difference in this case,” Spencer said.

The Highlander sustained extensive damage and was towed from the scene.

“No citations have been issued at this point,” Spencer said.

Within 15 minutes another rollover was reported near mile marker 35 on the southbound side of the interstate while emergency personnel were still tending to the northbound rollover.

Gold Honda passenger car overturns after driver slides on southbound I-15 near mile marker 35 in heavy rain Thursday, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 14, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

“One ambulance was diverted to the other crash at 35 but was called back to the scene since there were so many transported from the Toyota,” Spencer said.

Responders at the mile marker 35 crash found a gold Honda four-door passenger car overturned to the right of the roadway on the shoulder, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Mike Murphy said.

The three occupants of the vehicle reported no injuries and declined transport to the hospital, he said.

The Honda was heading south and began to slide sideways to the right, according to a statement made at the scene. The vehicle hit the soft shoulder, overturned and came to rest.

“One of the witnesses said the hail was coming down pretty heavily when they saw the vehicle start to slide sideways,” Murphy said.

Meanwhile, several family members were traveling a short distance behind the Honda and pulled over when they came upon the crash. They told the trooper they were too far behind the Honda to witness the accident as it happened, but stopped when they recognized the car.

Hurricane Valley Ambulance returning to mile marker 22 to transport patients injured in Highlander rollover Thursday, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 14, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

“The family was heading to St. George in two vehicles to do some canyoneering today and tomorrow when this happened,” Murphy said.

The three occupants in the Honda were checked by EMTs and reported they were uninjured in the crash, and declined transport to the hospital.

“That ambulance returned to mile marker 22 once they cleared from here,” Murphy said.

The Honda sustained extensive damage and was later towed from the scene.

As the trooper waited for the Honda to be towed, a sixth crash was reported shortly after 3 p.m. at mile marker 36 on southbound I-15 that involved a Jeep and a pickup truck pulling a travel trailer.

The southbound Jeep came up behind the pickup and struck the rear bumper of the camper trailer, sending the Jeep spinning off of the roadway. The driver of the truck was able to pull the trailer safely to the left and off the roadway.

The camper trailer sustained minimal damage and was driven from the scene, but the Jeep was rendered inoperable and towed from the roadway.

Gold Honda passenger car sustains extensive damage during rollover on southbound I-15 near mile marker 35 in heavy rain Thursday, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 14, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Both troopers cautioned drivers to use extra care when driving in the rain, and said speed plays a big part in many of the crashes, particularly when the roads are wet with rain and hail.

“This is all due to weather conditions and people driving too fast,” Murphy said, “and they’ve got to slow down.”

The Utah Highway Patrol, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Hurricane Valley Fire and Ambulance and the Utah Department of Transportation’s Incident Management Team responded to the crashes and tended to multiple scenes.

This report is based on statements from police or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.




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  • mmsandie September 14, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Why don,t people slow down in rainy weather.. That stretch of rte 15 is do dangerous, going down hill and speed limit is 75 mph
    That’s crazy.. 6 crashes is nonsense.. Everyone is in a hurry..

  • DB September 14, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    Hail on the roadway can be very slick if it’s heavy enough. I encountered some near Lake Tahoe on vacation a couple days ago. I had been camping. I just pulled over and put my mattress pads over the front and back windows until the storm passed, Ha, Mother Nature. It was a big turnout and other drivers were pulling over as well.

  • knobe September 15, 2017 at 7:47 am

    I think people are just too conditioned to our normally dry clear roads and
    are not adapting when this storm weather happens .
    During storms . . . Adapt by driving Slower !

  • Caveat_Emptor September 15, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Great coverage of these incidents, with good documentary photos, in a fairly tricky section of I-15.
    Normally, in fair weather, most vehicles heading northbound would lose speed just due to the uphill grade, while southbound leads to faster average speeds.
    UHP and UDOT experimented with speed limit signs that adjusted with the prevailing weather/road surface conditions. As often as this section of I-15 is in the news perhaps we have a candidate for the new technology.

  • utahdiablo September 15, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Slow the hell down dumb$hits…..get off your phone…your not that important….and yes use the new technology Udot, have adjustable speed limit signs as drivers are too damn stupid to know to a slow down on their own

    • mctrialsguy September 15, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      Well said. No one pays attention anymore.

  • DRT September 15, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    But the speed limit says 80! And I read where some jackwagon at UDOT stated that “speed doesn’t cause accidents.” So 80 must be OK, right? Right? RIGHT?
    I’m really surprised that we don’t have those adjustable speed limit signs down here. Since UDOT seems to think of Dixie as a “testing ground,” it’s amazing we don’t have them!
    I’m not just really enamored with UDOT, in case I didn’t make that clear…

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