ST. GEORGE — A passenger car took out more than 200 feet of guardrail on state Route 7 before catching fire and crashing some 100 yards from where the initial impact took place during a single-vehicle collision Monday morning.
At 9:50 a.m., officers and emergency personnel were dispatched to what was initially reported as a vehicle fire on SR-7 near the River Road Exit involving a white car, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Joseph Pastor said.
The driver and his passenger were able to get out of the burning car without sustaining any injuries. They were outside of the vehicle by the time troopers arrived on scene.
“Once officers arrived, it was discovered the vehicle actually crashed into the guardrail and then caught fire,” he said.
The car was fully involved in fire when emergency crews reached the scene. Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze within several minutes and then continued dousing the car to reduce the heat and extinguish any areas still burning.
A number of motorists also pulled over to check on the occupants and then remained at the scene to provide statements.
At the time of the crash, Pastor said, the 62-year-old driver was heading west on SR-7, just east of the River Road Exit, when the car struck the guardrail, sending splinters of wood across the roadway as posts tore from the ground went flying in all directions.
The car continued along the guardrail for several more feet before descending an embankment and crossing over the highway onramp, where it caught fire. Both men were able to jump out of the vehicle once it came to a rest. The fire tore through the car very quickly.
Pastor also said the crash resulted from the driver allegedly traveling at “an excessive speed,” which caused him to lose control of the vehicle as it veered to the right and went off the roadway.
Despite the fact the guardrail was destroyed during the incident, it kept the car on the highway long enough to slow it down and prevented it from heading down the embankment at highway speeds that could have been “catastrophic,” Pastor said.
With the extent of the damage caused by the fire, Pastor said both occupants “got very lucky they were able to get out of that vehicle.”
The vehicle was subsequently towed from the scene. The Utah Department of Transportation Incident Management Team also responded to assist in clearing debris and assess the damage to more than 200 feet of guardrail, which will be replaced in the following days.
All airbags deployed upon impact and both occupants were properly restrained at the time of the crash. Pastor said the driver was cited for speeding and failing to maintain his lane of travel.
No other vehicles were involved and no injuries were reported.
The Utah Highway Patrol, St. George Police and the St. George Fire Department responded to the scene.
This report is based on statements from police, emergency personnel or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
Editor’s note: The original story reported that the car took out 20 feet of guardrail, which was later corrected to be 200 feet.
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