ST. GEORGE — Both sides of state Route 18 in Central were closed Friday afternoon after a car abruptly slowing down to make a turn caused a chain-reaction collision involving a semitractor-trailer and two other vehicles.
According to the Utah Highway Patrol, the accident sent three people to the hospital. Two of the victims were seriously injured, including one that had to be freed from his vehicle before being airlifted by Mercy Air.
Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Grant Hintze said that according to the accounts of witnesses and those involved in the collision, the accident was started by a vehicle traveling south on the two-lane highway that slowed down abruptly to make a left turn and signaled for “a half-second.”
“The person who did a poor job of signaling was at fault,” Hintze said. “It’s important to give at least two seconds to signal to give people behind you a good warning.”
Instead, according to Hintze, the three vehicles trailing that vehicle – a white Ford F-350 pickup, a white Ford Econoline van and a semi – had to abruptly stop and ended up colliding with each other.
The lead vehicle that signaled abruptly was not hit, Hintze said, and left the scene before authorities could arrive.
The semi, which was at the back of the chain of vehicles, had the most difficulty stopping and jackknifed. The trailer then hit the van, which slammed into the back of the pickup.
The driver of the semi suffered a neck injury, lacerations and additional abdominal injuries and had to stay overnight in the hospital.
The most serious injuries were inflicted on the passengers in the van, which ended up sandwiched between the trailer and the pickup with the front of the van smashed into the driver and passenger of the Econoline.
“It was smashed between the two trucks,” Hintze said.
The van’s driver was pinned in the front of the vehicle and had to be freed by firefighters from Central and Brookside Fire departments with assistance from Enterprise Fire/EMS, Hintze said. Mercy Air was called and the driver was transported. As of 10 p.m. Friday night, he was still in surgery with compound fractures to his legs.
“At first, we thought it was a more serious injury,” Hintze said, adding that first responders made quick work of stopping serious bleeding, and the driver is expected to recover.
The van’s other passenger left the hospital after being examined. There were no injuries to those in the pickup truck.
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