Crash on I-15 near Virgin River Gorge sends 3 to hospital

Emergency personnel respond to a two-vehicle crash on northbound Interstate 15 near Littlefield, Ariz., June 1, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Three people were transported to the hospital after a crash on Interstate 15 just north of Littlefield, Arizona, Saturday.

Shortly after 2 p.m. MDT officers and emergency personnel were dispatched to the two-vehicle crash on southbound I-15 near mile marker 10 involving a Toyota Prius and another passenger car.

Responders found three injured occupants, including the driver and passenger in the Toyota and the driver in the other car, Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper Stephen Hughes said. All were transported by ambulance to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George for evaluation and treatment.

The driver of the passenger car told officers he was heading south behind the Toyota and was “taking a drink of coffee” when he realized traffic was slowing to nearly a stop in a construction zone, Hughes said. He slammed on his brakes but was unable to stop in time and struck the Toyota from the rear.

“He didn’t see the Toyota until the very last moment, and there was maybe 20 feet of skid before he hit her, if that,” Hughes said.

A Toyota sustains extensive damage after a two-vehicle crash on northbound Interstate 15 near Littlefield, Ariz., June 1, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

While the driver was unable to stop in time to avoid the collision, Hughes said, he was able to steer slightly to the left just before impact, which likely reduced the force of the collision.

Both vehicles sustained extensive damage and were subsequently towed from the roadway. The driver of the passenger car was later cited for failing to control a vehicle to avoid a collision.

Hughes said drivers need to reduce their speed as they approach the construction zone and to “remain alert and pay attention to the traffic even before they reach that area,” adding that drivers should expect traffic to be backed up, possibly even for a few miles, as they drive through the area.

“The motorists involved in today’s crash were locals, and anyone looking at the news should know there is construction going on in that area right now,” Hughes said.”Everyone needs to pay attention because traffic backs up there very quickly.”

“It was still backed up when I left,” he added.

The construction area Hughes is referring to is located on I-15 in the Virgin River Gorge between mile markers 13-16. The construction has reduced the interstate to a single, 10-foot-wide travel lane in both directions, making the road impassible within the 3-mile work zone for vehicles wider than 10 feet.

Work on the project to rehabilitate three bridge decks began Wednesday and is scheduled to be completed by Spring 2020. Around-the-clock traffic restrictions will remain in effect until then, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety and Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District responded and tended to the scene of Saturday’s crash.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders 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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