Fatal motorcycle crash, car vs. RV crash and truck fire occur minutes apart in Gorge

Silver passenger car is damaged after rear ending an RV on Interstate 15 northbound, Mohave County, Arizona, August 9, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Two crashes and a truck fire spread emergency responders thin along Interstate 15 in Arizona Thursday afternoon.

The chaos began at 5 p.m. MST when officers were dispatched to an incident on southbound Interstate 15 involving a 2014 Harley Davidson motorcycle that crashed near mile marker 15 in Littlefield, Arizona.

Upon arrival emergency personnel found a motorcycle rider, later identified as 51-year-old John Frederick Morrison of Indio, California, dead at the scene of the crash, Sgt. John Bottoms of the Arizona Highway Patrol said.

Officers determined that Morrison was heading south and lost control of the bike as it veered toward the right shoulder and slammed into the guardrail.

The rider was separated from the bike and struck the concrete wall of Bridge No. 5, tearing the helmet from the man’s head, which caused blunt force traumatic injuries resulting in his death.

Morrison was part of a small group of riders that included the man’s fiance along with several friends who were riding through the Virgin River Gorge.

Within five minutes of the motorcycle crash, another collision was reported on the northbound side of the interstate near mile marker 9 involving a passenger car that rear ended an RV, Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire Chief Jeff Hunt said.

Emergency personnel were dispatched to the second crash and were joined by responders pulled from the fatal incident.

Silver passenger car is damaged after rear ending an RV on Interstate 15 northbound, Mohave County, Arizona, August 9, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

Upon arrival responders found the passenger car directly behind the RV, Hunt said, with both vehicles blocking the outside lane of traffic.

The blocked lane ran along a concrete barrier inches from the right shoulder, exposing both crash victims and emergency personnel to danger of being struck by a passing vehicle.

To reduce the danger, both vehicles were moved from the roadway to an area off of the shoulder. The passenger car was pulled out of the road using a fire truck.

“Cars and even semis were barreling past us and weren’t slowing down at all while everyone was out there in the middle of the road, and we were afraid someone was going to get seriously injured or even killed,” Hunt said.

The man driving the passenger car along with the five occupants in the motor home all declined treatment at the scene, Hunt said, and no injuries were reported.

The driver of the passenger car told officers he was heading north on the interstate going approximately 75 mph when his Bluetooth phone began to ring, Hunt said, and he looked down at the dash to answer it.

At the same time, the RV was also heading north just ahead in the same travel lane at 50 mph.

After receiving the call, the driver’s focus returned to the road just in time to see the slower-moving RV directly ahead, and seconds later the vehicle slammed into the rear bumper of the RV.

“As soon as he looked up he crashed into the rear of the motor home, totaling his car and damaging the RV,” Hunt said, “and it even knocked the exhaust pipe off the RV’s generator.”

Meanwhile, a road worker driving an Arizona Department of Transportation truck was pulling emergency cones from the northbound side of the Interstate near Exit 8 after the RV and passenger car were moved out of the road.

ADOT road crew truck smolders after catching fire as worker was pulling cones off Interstate 15, Mohave County, Arizona, August 9, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Jeff Hunt, St. George News

Smoke started coming out of the cab of the ADOT truck, Hunt said, and the cab then quickly caught fire.

“The ADOT driver was pulling cones from our scene to put on the northbound side for the fatal crash when the fire happened,” the chief said.

Responders at both scenes were alerted to the truck fire and sent a fire truck and crew to contain the blaze. The cab of the truck was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived, and they were able to completely extinguish the fire within minutes.

The driver later told responders that he began to smell smoke as he was pulling cones from the Interstate but thought it was residual smoke coming from one of the crashes.

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire, and the ADOT truck was towed from the scene.

Both sides of the Interstate experienced lane closures as responders worked for hours to clear debris, tow vehicles, complete traffic investigations and tend to the scenes.

The Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, Arizona Highway Patrol, Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and the Arizona Department of Transportation responded and tended to the scenes.

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

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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