Passengers injured when wheel bounces across median of I-15, striking 2 vehicles

Silver passenger car sustains severe damage when it is struck by a tire that came off of a trailer on I-15, Littlefield, Ariz., Oct. 29, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE A trailer lost a tire that bounced from one side of Interstate 15 to the other and struck two vehicles that were carrying multiple occupants near Littlefield, Arizona, Sunday.

Shortly after 3 p.m. MST, a truck pulling a trailer loaded with an off-road vehicle was headed north on I-15 and as the truck passed mile marker 20 one of the rear wheels came off of the trailer and bounced across the interstate, Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper Tom Callister said.

“The wheel was moving with such force that it bounced over the barrier wall and straight into southbound traffic,” Callister said.

The wheel first struck a white minivan carrying five small children, hitting the rear panel of the vehicle and shattering a rear window, causing minor injuries to the 7-year-old boy sitting next to the window.

“The man told me the wheel was coming straight at him, and even though he swerved it still hit the side of the vehicle and injured the child,” Callister said.

The wheel continued south and struck the front of a silver Chrysler passenger car “dead on,” with so much force that it caved in the windshield and the frame above it.

The woman sitting in the passenger’s seat suffered a “fairly significant” laceration to her head, and the infant in the rear seat also suffered minor cuts from the flying glass.

Fortunately, Callister added, the infant’s car seat was secured in the middle of the seat, instead of directly behind the passenger, or the injuries could have been significant.

The man in the truck pulling the trailer stopped once he realized there was something wrong with the trailer, and discovered that he’d lost a wheel.

Even so, the man had no idea where the wheel went, nor was he aware that it bounced over the median wall to the opposite side of the interstate where it struck the two vehicles.

All of the occupants of both vehicles declined to be transported to the hospital, and three were treated at the scene by EMTs.

The pickup driver was not cited in the incident, Callister said, as the trailer suffered a mechanical failure that released the wheel from the axle, as opposed to any action or negligence by the driver.

“The trailer was in good condition and the driver could not have prevented what happened because he had no way of knowing anything would happen,” Callister said.

“We can’t cite him for something he had no control over.”

Both the minivan and the Chrysler were significantly damaged and subsequently towed from the scene. Traffic was impeded initially, but once a southbound lane was reopened it relieved the backup of vehicles.

Arizona Department of Public Safety and Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire and Rescue responded and tended to the scene.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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