Rollovers, slide-offs and a semi fire on I-15 follow heavy rains

Semitractor-trailer catches fire from mechanical issue on Interstate 15 near mile marker 38, Washington County, Utah, March 22, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Multiple single-vehicle crashes, slide-offs, rollovers and a semitractor-trailer fire were reported up and down Interstate 15 when heavy rains sent a deluge of water across the region Thursday.

Semitractor-trailer catches fire from mechanical issue on Interstate 15 near mile marker 38, Washington County, Utah, March 22, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

The day started with a crash reported at 7 a.m. on state Route 18 southbound near the Ledges Parkway, where a driver veered into the concrete barrier and crashed the vehicle, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Jake Hicks said.

The man told troopers he fell asleep while driving, Hicks said, adding that “fatigue played a role in a few of the crashes Thursday.”

The SR-18 crash was followed by a semitractor-trailer that caught fire a few hours later on Interstate 15 northbound near mile post 38, when  emergency dispatch received a 911 call reporting that a semi caught fire.

The truck was hauling bio-waste, Hicks said, “so we got lucky on that one because the trailer wasn’t compromised, and the fire didn’t spread once the cab caught fire.”

The driver told troopers he experienced some type of mechanical failure that caused the cab to catch on fire, but he was able to get out of the truck to safety before it spread to the interior of the cab.

The trailer remained intact and the contents secured while wreckers responded and cleared the wreckage from the roadway. No injuries were reported and no citations were issued.

Traffic was blocked for approximately 30 minutes while fire crews extinguished the blaze and was reopened to through traffic shortly after.

A short time later a two-vehicle crash was reported on I-15 northbound at Exit 4 that was caused by “inattentiveness” Hicks said.

“That crash was really due to not paying attention, but did not cause any lane blockage or injuries,” he said.

A few hours later, a single-vehicle rollover was reported at 7 p.m. on I-15  northbound at mile marker 20,where a Toyota Rav 4 hit a patch of water and lost control of the vehicle that hit the soft embankment and rolled onto its side.

The SUV continued rotating until it hit another embankment, which flipped it back onto its wheels, sitting upright.

Blue Toyota Rav 4 sits along I-15 near mile marker 20 after hydroplaning during heavy rains, Washington County, Utah, March 22, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

Hicks added that the driver was driving too fast for conditions and once she hit the water she wasn’t able to control the SUV at that point. The trooper also commented on what the driver did right, which protected both herself and the passenger in this crash.

“There were no injuries, thankfully, and they were both wearing their seat belts and the airbags deployed, which helped protect them,” Hicks said.

Meanwhile, a second semitractor-trailer incident was reported, one that involved a semi that veered off I-15 northbound at mile marker 24 near Leeds When the truck left the shoulder it became stuck in the mud.

More than four hours later the truck remained on the side of the interstate, until two heavy wreckers arrived on scene and pulled it back onto the roadway.

The trooper said that there were several similar weather-related crashes that were “all single-vehicle crashes along I-15 – including slide-offs, cars skidding into barriers, sliding off of the road, and so on.”

“Motorists need to drive slower, if for no other reason than to keep themselves safe, and it may take longer to get where you’re going, but at least you’ll get there,” Hicks said.

Hicks added that it’s common to find standing water on the interstate and other roadways during heavy rains, which is dangerous and can lead to a loss of control as the vehicle hydroplanes, adding that, “the posted speed limit is for when conditions are good, with dry roads and good weather,” he said, “it’s not a safe speed in the conditions we had yesterday.”

He suggested that motorists slow down, increase their following distance and pay closer attention to the task of driving, particularly in inclement weather.

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, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • utahdiablo March 23, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Nothing to see here folks….lets get Udot to raise the state speed limit to 85….come on, we got to move commerce!

  • Travis March 24, 2018 at 8:45 am

    3rd Avenue from 57th Street to 127th Street – 3 to 4 lanes of city traffic, rush hour cabs and my little 73 VW Beetle – I could make it 70 blocks with no lights. I can’t imagine Washington County, Utah drivers surviving in NYC!

  • Carpe Diem March 24, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    That Rav 4 did pretty well for going over at speed. Perhaps just got lucky.

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