MOHAVE COUNTY — A driver and his adolescent son were killed Wednesday night in a crash on southbound Interstate 15 just south of the Utah-Arizona border. The driver’s 11-year-old daughter was transported to the hospital with injuries that authorities said were not life threatening.
Shortly before 10 p.m. MST, a battalion of fire engines, ambulances and officers responded to a two-vehicle crash just north of the Black Rock exit involving a black Ford Mustang and a semitractor-trailer. According to initial reports, the Mustang was underneath the semi and the three occupants were trapped in the car.
Arizona Department of Public Safety Trooper Thomas Callister told St. George News the driver was killed in the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene, while his 12-year-old son, who was sitting in the front seat, was trapped but initially still breathing. The 10-year-old girl riding in the backseat was also trapped in the mangled wreckage.
Unable to pull the Mustang from underneath the semi, fire crews worked for nearly 30 minutes cutting away the top of the vehicle, as well as two of the doors, to free the occupants. St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said as the young boy was lifted out of the vehicle, he stopped breathing.
Firefighters and paramedics initiated CPR on the child, efforts that continued for more than 40 minutes, but despite the life-saving measures the boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
Callister said the father and his two children had been heading south on the interstate from their home in Provo.
Previous to the crash, the semi had pulled off onto the shoulder area just north of the Black Rock exit near mile marker 27. The semi pulled onto the interstate and was traveling less than 10 mph when the Mustang slammed into the back of the trailer.
According to a witness who stopped and spoke to police, the trailer lights were not activated when the semi pulled out into traffic, and Callister said by the time the driver of the truck realized they were not on, “it was too late.”
Two other vehicles traveling behind the semi narrowly missed colliding with the truck.
Callister said the impact with the Mustang caused the rear guard on the semi, the steel bar that prevents a car from sliding underneath the trailer, to fail. Half of the bar was crushed underneath the truck, while the other half split off and was thrown several yards away. The crash also left a debris field of shattered glass and metal that extended more than 40 yards behind the crash.
Stoker said when the Mustang slid under the semi, the steel bar struck the driver and the front-seat passenger in the chest area, which likely contributed to the catastrophic injuries. The Mustang stopped short of the backseat as it slid under the truck, which spared the young girl from serious injury.
Following extrication, she was transported to St. George Regional Hospital. The semi driver was uninjured in the crash; however, Callister said the scene was one of the more tragic collisions he had responded to.
He said the Arizona Department of Public Safety is handling the ongoing investigation, and no further details were available at the scene. The identity of the two occupants killed in the crash was not released pending family notifications.
Both southbound lanes of I-15 were closed for nearly two hours following the crash, and shortly before midnight a single lane was reopened for traffic. Both southbound lanes were open for travel at the time of this report.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety, St. George Fire Department, Gold Cross Ambulance, Beaver Dam Littlefield Fire and Rescue, Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Utah Highway Patrol and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office responded and tended to the large scene.
This report is based on statements from police, emergency personnel or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
Editors note: The age of the child in the backseat of the car has been corrected after further information was provided by law enforcement.
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