Rollover on I-15 triggered when semi strikes pickup in ‘blind spot’

Toyota pickup truck comes to rest upside-down following rollover on southbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 36, Leeds, Utah, Nov. 24, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Three occupants escaped serious injury in a two-vehicle crash on southbound Interstate 15 in Leeds that was set in motion when a semitractor-trailer merging into the fast lane struck a pickup truck Tuesday.

Shortly after noon, Utah Highway Patrol troopers and emergency personnel responded to a rollover on southbound I-15 near mile marker 36 involving a Toyota pickup truck and a semi pulling a single trailer.

Troopers arrived to find the pickup truck upside down in the middle of the outside lane, while the truck’s two occupants, who were able to climb out of the overturned truck through the shattered driver’s side window, were waiting nearby, UHP Sgt. Jake Hicks told St. George News.

Hicks also said they found the semi stopped on the shoulder just south of the scene and both occupants in the Toyota that sustained minor injuries.

At the time of the crash, the pickup was heading south in the fast lane when the semi driver started to merge over into the left lane to avoid slower-moving traffic just up ahead, Hicks said.

Meanwhile, the semi continued to move into the left lane as the Toyota driver began honking and hit the gas to get ahead of the semi, but as he did so, the rear of his truck clipped the left front panel of the semitractor, which sent the pickup spinning out of control until it went into a half-roll and landed upside down with the wheels facing skyward.

Toyota pickup truck comes to rest upside-down blocking the outside lane of southbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 36, Leeds, Utah, Nov. 24, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

Immediately after the crash, the semi pulled off the shoulder and ran over to the overturned pickup to check on the occupants and assisted the pair as they climbed out of the truck.

Hicks went on to say that in some situations, accelerating out of the path of a semi can help to avoid a collision depending on where both vehicles are in relation to one another. In this case, he said, the Toyota driver nearly pulled it off, and had he had another second or two — he likely would have.

The semi driver told troopers he never saw the pickup, which was likely in the semi driver’s blind spot as he was attempting to move over, Hicks added. The driver went on to explain that he heard the sound of honking, but by then it was already too late to avoid the crash.

Hicks also said the area where the incident took place also played a role in how things turned out. Both vehicles were approaching Exit 36, he said, where the road narrows just before the onramp, which also reduced the width of the emergency shoulder running alongside the fast lane, leaving the Toyota driver with too little to work with.

Thankfully, Hicks said, all occupants were restrained at the time of the crash, which likely prevented further injuries, or worse. He also said that speed was not a factor, and the semi driver did the right thing by pulling over immediately and checking on the pair.

The Toyota was heavily damaged and was towed from the roadway. The semi driver was cited following the crash and traffic was impacted for roughly 40 minutes as the interstate was reduced to a single lane.

Hicks also reminded drivers to make sure they buckle up as they travel over the holiday weekend.

The Utah Highway Patrol, Utah Department of Transportation Incident Management, Zion National Park Ranger, Hurricane Valley Fire and Rescue and Kanarraville Fire Department responded and tended to the scene.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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