ST. GEORGE — Four children and a woman were injured after a 16-hour road trip that took the family through the night ended with a crash on Interstate 15 in the Virgin River Gorge early Monday morning.
The 35-year-old woman told police her steering wheel started to violently shake before losing control of her Dodge Caravan at approximately 5:40 a.m. The minivan then collided with the median wall, crossed both southbound traffic lanes of the interstate and crashed into the dirt embankment on the shoulder near mile marker 22, said Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Bottoms.
All of the windows on the driver’s side of the minivan were shattered. The woman looked like she may have fractured her hand or wrist, Bottoms said, adding that the four children – all under the age of 13 – were injured with lacerations from the shattered glass and debris inside the vehicle. After the crash, the woman and the children all got out of the minivan and waited for emergency responders to arrive on the side of I-15.
“Her vehicle was partially blocking the righthand traffic lane,” Bottoms said, “and they were nearly hit several times as traffic came around the curve where she was stopped.”
Some off-duty firefighters and a nurse from St. George who were on their way to work in Las Vegas also stopped at the scene to help the injured people at the scene before emergency responders arrived, Bottoms said.
All five were transported to the Mesa View Regional Hospital in Mesquite, Nevada, by the Beaver Dam Fire Department, where they are being treated for their injuries. The extent of their injuries was not known to police at the time of this report.
The woman and her children were from Yakima, Washington, and were moving to Phoenix when the crash occurred.
“They were moving, so they had almost everything they owned inside the van,” Bottoms said. “I’m surprised they didn’t get more serious injuries because they had a couple of tricycles inside the car that flew forward and had to have hit one of the kids. They are lucky.”
The woman told police she had left Yakima at 10 a.m. Sunday and had driven all the way through the night, which would have put her at about 16 hours behind the wheel after the few breaks they took, Bottoms said.
“It’s 2018; we shouldn’t have to keep reminding the public that fatigued driving is nearly as dangerous as impaired driving,” Bottoms said. “You can’t operate a vehicle safely if you are not well-rested.”
This report is based on statements from police and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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