ST. GEORGE — Emergency personnel from Arizona Highway Patrol and Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire and Rescue responded to a crash in the Virgin River Gorge Wednesday morning that resulted in one person being sent to the hospital.
Trooper Matt Jenkins said a man driving a white Nissan Murano was northbound on Interstate 15 through the gorge near milepost 21 when he fell asleep, hit the guard rail and went down the embankment towards the river.
The vehicle traveled approximately 1,000 feet down the embankment, Jenkins said.
An ambulance from Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District also responded to the incident. Fire Chief Jeff Hunt said the vertical drop alone was nearly 250 feet.
Despite the drop, Jenkins said the man was transported to Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center by Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire in stable condition, though the extent of his injuries was unknown.
“He was talking to me,” Jenkins said of the driver.
Hunt said the man is extremely lucky, given that the chance for critical injury or even death was certainly there with how the car went down the embankment.
Though he could not confirm it, Hunt said it appeared the vehicle went down end-over-end rather than rolling, which is significantly more violent.
Jenkins could not confirm that the passenger was wearing a seatbelt, but he said all the airbags in the vehicle deployed.
No extrication was necessary.
At the time of this report, the vehicle was being removed from the scene by a heavy duty tow truck with an actuator crane, Jenkins said.
Jenkins added a word of caution about the dangers of drowsy driving.
“It is pretty self-explanatory,” he said. “If you are going to be driving early in the morning or late at night, make sure you are awake. And if you get drowsy, pull over.”
Arizona Department of Transportation personnel also responded to the incident.
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