Car rear-ending semitrailer one of multiple collisions on southbound I-15

A stock image shows a Utah Highway Patrol vehicle on a highway in Southern Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — For the second day in a row, and in nearly the same place, fingers were pointed at the glare of the setting sun as the cause of vehicle crashes on southbound Interstate 15.

The red circle marks the general area on southbound I-15 mile 18 where multiple vehicles collided due the alleged glare of the setting sun, Washington County, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

At least one person was taken to the hospital for care Tuesday after the car she was in hit the back of a semitrailer and she had to be extricated from the vehicle by firefighters. That collision was just one of five that occurred in the area of mile marker 18 on southbound I-15 near the Hurricane/Exit 16 interchange where traffic slowed as it passed through a construction zone.

Around 5:30 p.m., southbound traffic north of the Hurricane/Exit 16 interchange began to slow to a stop due to construction focused on the exit’s infrastructure. Around mile 18, a Jeep Wrangler was approaching the slowed traffic while its driver was having a difficult time seeing ahead of him due to the sun’s glare, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Grant Hintze said.

The Jeep’s driver began to slow when he noticed a Ford Fusion behind him in the rear-view mirror that was approaching fast from behind. In order to try and avoid being hit, the driver moved the Jeep toward the right shoulder, which is the same idea the Fusion’s driver had, Hintze said.

The Jeep and Fusion ended up sideswiping each other yet resulted in only minor damage and no injuries.

“This was the catalyst for other accidents,” Hintze said.

The majority of the four following collisions were “fender benders” with no injuries involved, except for in the case of an SUV that ran into – and partly under – the back of a slowed semitractor-trailer.

I-15 southbound in the area of mile 18 just sought of Harrisburg, Washington County, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

Due to the number of crashes, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office assisted UHP at the scene and handled the SUV incident.

Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Graham Hancock said the driver of the SUV attempted to pass the slow-moving semi when the glare of the sun blinded her and resulted in the SUV rear-ending the semitractor-trailer.

Hintze, who also observed the collision, said it appeared that the semi pulled forward and the car was detached from the rear of the trailer before coming to rest on the side of the road.

While the driver was unharmed and able to get out of the car, a 32-year-old female passenger received an injury to her right arm. She also had to be extricated from the car by responding firefighters who cut off a part of the car’s roof to get to her, Hancock said.

The extent of the woman’s injuries were unknown but didn’t appear to be life threatening, both Hintze and Hancock said.

“After that, there were no more crashes, but it caused quite a delay (in traffic),” he said.

Traffic on northbound I-15 was stalled for over an hour and backed up to Leeds near Exit 22 as responders dealt with the scene and eventually had six of the vehicles involved in the collisions towed away, Hintze said.

While it only involved a single two-car collision, a similar incident occurred on southbound I-15 at mile marker 17 Monday evening where one car rear-ended another due to the sun blinded the driver.

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

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