Truck rolls on I-15 after trailer loaded with sand fishtails out of control

Utah Highway Patrol responds to a single-vehicle rollover involving a pickup truck pulling a trailer on southbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 2 in St. George, Utah, Feb. 22, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A truck-trailer rollover on Interstate 15 Friday morning was set in motion when the trailer fishtailed out of control, triggering a traffic backup that extended for more than 2 miles.

A Dodge pickup truck rests upside-down on southbound Interstate 15 after the trailer the truck was pulling fishtailed out of control, St. George, Utah, Feb. 22, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

Emergency personnel responded to the rollover involving a white Dodge pickup truck pulling a small trailer loaded with sand on southbound I-15 just north of Exit 2 at 11:20 a.m.

The driver was heading south on I-15 when the trailer began to fishtail, and the driver responded by applying the brake, causing the trailer to swerve violently, Utah Highway Patrol trooper Mark Cooper said.

The driver lost control of the pickup as it rolled and came to rest upside-down blocking the No. 2 lane, while the trailer tipped onto its side, dumping sand onto the roadway as it did so. The crash caused miles of traffic backup as responders worked to remove the sand and vehicle from the roadway.

The driver was delivering sand for a landscaping job when the crash occurred, Cooper said, noting that the driver’s boss was following directly behind and watched the crash unfold.

Cooper said more than one factor contributed to the rollover, including the weight of the load possibly exceeding the capabilities of the trailer and how the weight of the load was distributed. In this case, the sand appeared to have settled more towards the rear of the trailer, which caused it to become unstable.

A Dodge pickup truck is towed after after a single-vehicle rollover on Interstate 15 near mile marker 2 in St. George, Utah, Feb. 22, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Cooper stressed the importance of using safety chains and proper hitch connections, which he said were present on the truck and trailer, adding that despite the trailer breaking free from the hitch, it remained connected to the truck via the safety chains that did exactly what they were designed to do.

“Many people don’t use the chains, but they are important, particularly in this crash where they kept the two together even as the truck was rolling over.”

Cooper is an inspector with the Utah Department of Public Safety’s commercial vehicle section and has seen first-hand what can happen when proper safety recommendations and requirements are missed.

He explained that when a trailer becomes detached while in motion, there is no way to control which direction it takes or where it goes, an element of particular importance in Friday’s crash.

Had the trailer become completely detached, there is a strong possibility it could have crossed over the median into oncoming traffic, as the weight of the sand would have increased its momentum.

“And that could have been disastrous,” Cooper said.

The pickup truck and trailer were towed from the roadway on two separate wreckers, and once the No. 2 lane reopened, the traffic backup began to clear.

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

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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