ST. GEORGE — A Dixie State University student was killed and five others were injured when the vehicle the student was traveling in was struck in a head-on crash by a wrong-way driver on northbound Interstate 15 in Nevada early Saturday morning.
Shortly before 2 a.m. Nevada Highway Patrol troopers and emergency responders were dispatched to a three-vehicle crash on northbound I-15 just north of Las Vegas involving a wrong-way driver.
In an email sent to St. George News on Tuesday morning, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Ashlee Wellman wrote that a white Toyota Camry was heading south in the northbound lanes of I-15 toward Speedway Boulevard and struck a blue Toyota Camry traveling north head-on.
The impact redirected the blue Camry into the path of a semitractor-trailer traveling directly behind the Camry.
The secondary impact sent the blue Camry to the left toward the median, where it crossed into the unpaved shoulder and struck the cable barrier.
Two of the five occupants in the blue Camry, as well as the single occupant in the white Toyota, were transported to University Medical Center in Las Vegas in critical condition, while the remaining three occupants in the blue car were transported to the same hospital in serious condition.
The passenger in the rear seat of the blue Toyota, later identified as 23-year-old Samuela Maluamaka Tupola, was transported in critical condition and died from his injuries at the hospital shortly before 10 a.m. the following morning.
Victoria Pikula-Scadlock, a family friend of Tupola, set up a GoFundMe account to help the family with funeral expenses and to cover Tupola’s medical costs, as he had no medical insurance.
On the GoFundMe page, Pikula-Scadlock wrote that at the time of the crash, Tupola was returning home to Utah with two of his cousins and two friends.
Tupola was a student at Dixie State University at the time of his death and was “living his life to the fullest, being an advocate for justice for racial inequality” as well as thriving in his studies, Spadlock wrote.
Dixie State University’s Public Relations Coordinator Stacey Schmidt confirmed that Tapola is an active student and said the university is working on a statement that will be released once they are able to confer with the family.
The investigation into the crash is being conducted by the Nevada Highway Patrol and is ongoing. Wellman noted in her statement that investigators have reason to believe driver of the white passenger car heading the wrong way was impaired at the time of the crash and charges are pending.
This marks the Nevada Highway Patrol – Southern Command’s 13th fatal crash resulting in 15 fatalities for 2021.
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