Truck rips up 25 feet of guardrail on I-15 in the Gorge, triggers second crash injuring 2

A section of guardrail is entangled with the front of a semi truck that veered off I-15 southbound near mile marker 17, Mohave County, Ariz., Dec. 27, 2018 | Submitted photo, St. George News

ST. GEORGE  Traffic on Interstate 15 was backed up more than 10 miles in the Virgin River Gorge Thursday after a semitractor-trailer crashed into the guardrail, blocking one southbound lane and triggering a second crash with injuries.

Red passenger vehicle is damaged on the side of I-15 near mile marker 19 after a secondary crash in stopped traffic in Mohave County, Ariz. Dec. 27, 2018 | Submitted photo, St. George News

Shortly before 4 p.m. MST emergency responders were dispatched to the crash near mile marker 17 just south of the Cedar Pocket exit in Mohave County, said Arizona Highway Patrol trooper Tom Callister.

The semi was blocking the southbound right lane with 25 feet of guardrail torn from its base and a section still entangled in the front and undercarriage of the truck’s cab. Responders found the driver outside of the semi and uninjured.

Emergency crews could not pull the guardrail from the truck, so they brought in a chop saw to cut it away and pull the tangled steel from the roadway.

The driver was heading south when the truck veered onto the right shoulder and continued up an embankment as he attempted to pull it back toward the roadway.

However, the front of the truck caught the backside of the guardrail, pulling it from its supporting beams and dragging the front section several yards before the driver was able to stop the vehicle.

Had the semi continued forward without catching the guardrail, it could have gone off a 30-foot embankment, Callister said, and the results “could have been catastrophic.”

A section of guardrail is entangled with the front of a semi truck that veered off I-15 southbound near mile marker 17, Mohave County, Ariz., Dec. 27, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire and Rescue, George News

“Semi trucks going into ravines is never good for the driver.”

Large wreckers pulled the semi onto the roadway and towed it from the scene.

The investigation is ongoing, and distracted driving has not been ruled out.

Callister said the driver “couldn’t explain why he went off the road.” He was cited for speed not reasonable or prudent for conditions.

As traffic backed up behind the scene, a secondary collision occurred at mile marker 19 when a passenger car was rear-ended by a second vehicle, injuring both occupants in the lead vehicle.

“That is a very bad curve at mile marker 19, and the two in the passenger car that was rear-ended were both injured and transported to the hospital by ambulance,” Callister said.

After more than two hours, the roadway was cleared of both crashes.

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

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  • Carpe Diem December 28, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    “Virgin Tour” of the River gorge no doubt.

  • utahdiablo December 29, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    Slow the Hell down Big Rig Drivers, get off your cell phones too…you don’t own the Road

  • KR567 December 29, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    oh oh time to fill out a resume eh ? lol

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