Driver crashes into semi in Virgin River Gorge, walks a mile before passing motorist stops to help

Photo of silver passenger car destroyed in crash on southbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 22 in Mohave County, Ariz., Jan. 11, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam Littlefield Fire and Ambulance, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A driver on Interstate 15 in the Virgin River Gorge was fortunate to have escaped serious injury when he crashed into the back of a semitractor-trailer Tuesday night – a collision that destroyed the vehicle but left the driver with only superficial lacerations.

Shortly before 9 p.m., emergency personnel were dispatched to a crash on southbound I-15 at mile marker 22, about 4 miles north of the Cedar Pocket exit, involving a silver four-door passenger car that struck the back of a semi.

At the time of the crash, the passenger car was heading south when the driver lost control of the car and struck the rear of the semi, Arizona Department of Public Safety Trooper Matthew Jenkins told St. George News. Following the impact, the passenger car spun off the interstate and ended up on the shoulder of the roadway.

When troopers arrived, they only found the extensively damaged silver car, but the semi was nowhere to be found. Jenkins said this was likely the result of the semi driver being unaware that anything, including a small passenger car, had struck the truck, so the driver continued south.

Capt. Debbie Gates with Beaver Dam-Littlefield Fire and Ambulance told St. George News that the driver of the car climbed out and then made his way back to the interstate, where he walked for nearly a mile attempting to flag down help.

Photo of passenger car destroyed in crash with semi on southbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 22 in Mohave County, Ariz., Jan. 11, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam Littlefield Fire and Ambulance, St. George News

A passerby spotted the man and pulled over to assist, and then remained on the shoulder until emergency crews arrived.

Gates said the medical crew arrived to find the 21-year-old driver nearly a mile south of where the crash took place.

The man sustained only minor injuries, she said, primarily superficial lacerations to his arms and legs. He was evaluated but declined to be transported to the hospital.

The fact the driver sustained only minor injuries was very surprising, Gates said, considering the extent of the damage to the passenger car, which was destroyed in the collision. Gates attributed the lack of injuries to two major components: the fact the driver was wearing his seat belt and that the vehicle was equipped with airbags that deployed upon impact.

“He’s a very lucky man to have not been more seriously injured.”

The semi was never located following the crash, and the passenger car was subsequently towed from the scene.

Numbers continue to rise for Beaver Dam-Littlefield Fire and Ambulance 

Tuesday was particularly busy for Beaver Dam Fire Department’s ambulance crew. The crash involving the silver passenger car was the tenth medical call that emergency crews had responded to since 4:45 a.m. that morning. In all, they responded to three motor vehicle crashes, four medical calls, two fall victims and a cardiac arrest.

Gates said the department has seen such a spike in the number of calls received that the fire station is now staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Last year, the department responded to more than 1,280 calls. Of those, 1,035 were medical calls, and the remaining were fire related.

This report is based on statements from police, emergency personnel or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. 

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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