Tractor-trailer accident scatters ‘Flamin’ Hot Cheetos,’ creates hot mess on I-15 corridor

A crash involving two semis sends Frito Lay products scattering across the roadway near Littlefield, Ariz., July 6, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Arizona Highway Patrol, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Authorities are encouraging Interstate 15 holiday travelers passing through Littlefield, Arizona, extending through Southern Utah, to use Highway 91 as an alternate route, otherwise risk encountering an estimated 9-10 mile backup in both directions.

The trailer of a 2019 Freightliner is ripped open in a crash with a second semi on Interstate 15 near Littlefield, Ariz., July 6, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire and Rescue, St. George News

The Highway 91 alternate route can be accessed from Exit 8 in Utah through Beaver Dam and Littlefield, Arizona.

The affected corridor was made even worse Saturday evening after an accident involving two tractor-trailers. The incident injured one driver and tore both trailers open, sending a mass of corn chips scattered in all directions, creating a hot mess on the highway. The accident happened shortly before 6 p.m. MDT, at mile marker 10, and contributed to a traffic backup that stretched for more than eight miles, according to Arizona Highway Patrol Sgt. John Bottoms.

Authorities say the driver of a 2019 Freightliner tractor-trailer was heading north at about 65 mph when the driver “failed to observe that traffic was stopped in both lanes,” Bottoms said. The driver hit the brakes and attempted to steer his way out of the crash, but his tractor-trailer struck the rear right corner of another tractor-trailer.

The impact of the crash sent 10 cases of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos scattering across the roadway. Troopers arrived to find a 2016 Freightliner, which was hauling 30,000 pounds of produce, pulled off on the right shoulder. The second tractor-trailer, a 2019 Freightliner, was hauling a trailer full of Frito-Lay products and had come to a stop below a small embankment more than 50 feet from the right shoulder.

The driver in the 2019 Freightliner semi was treated at the scene for a laceration to his head, Bottoms said. Meanwhile, the undamaged cases of chip products were off-loaded at the scene and the severely damaged trailer was towed from the roadway.

The traffic backup that contributed to the crash was made even worse when the right lane was temporarily closed for responders to clear debris and wreckage from the roadway, Bottoms said, a situation that continued for several more hours.

The driver of the 2019 Freightliner was cited for failure to control his speed to avoid a collision.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.


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