Crash in Gorge kills 1 motorcycle rider, second rider transported to hospital

A motorcycle rider is killed and another rider is injured on northbound I-15 near mile marker 13 in the Virgin River Gorge, Mohave County, Ariz., March 31, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

VIRGIN RIVER GORGE — A motorcycle rider was killed and another injured in a crash on Interstate 15 that closed both northbound lanes for hours Sunday afternoon.

Beaver Dam Littlefield Fire responds to fatal motorcycle crash on northbound I-15 near mile marker 13 in the Virgin River Gorge, Mohave County, Ariz., March 31, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

Juan Ortiz, 48, of Las Vegas, Nevada was killed in a motorcycle crash on northbound I-15 near mile marker 13, Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper Tom Callister said.

The crash was reported at 2:15 p.m. MST (3:15 p.m. MDT). Callister said the two riders were traveling with a large group that were heading north on the interstate and, according to several witnesses, were traveling “at a high rate of speed” on high-performance bikes.

Ortiz was traveling ahead of several other riders. Callister said when he reached the curve “right at the mouth of the Gorge, he was traveling too fast and instead of negotiating the curve he laid the bike down.”

A second motorcycle struck Ortiz’s bike lying in the roadway, causing the rider to lose control of the bike as it slid across the roadway.

Beaver Dam Littlefield Fire responds to fatal motorcycle crash on northbound I-15 near mile marker 13 in the Virgin River Gorge, Mohave County, Ariz., March 31, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

Callister added that Ortiz was wearing a helmet when the crash took place, but at those speeds “that helmet could not prevent the head trauma that was so significant it was not survivable.”

Ortiz was pronounced dead at the scene after life-saving measures were unsuccessful, Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire Firefighter/Paramedic Ryan Moore said in a statement released Sunday evening.

The second rider who was injured was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in critical but stable condition, Moore said.

Additional troopers were called in to assist with traffic control as the northbound side of I-15 was shut down initially, backing up traffic for more than 9 miles until one lane reopened for travel.

The family of he victim has been notified by authorities.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety, Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and Beaver Dam Littlefield Fire and Rescue responded to the scene.

Additional help arrived when bystanders pulled over to assist the victims while emergency personnel were en route.

“We would like to thank the bystanders, the off-duty firefighter/paramedic from San Bernardino County and the off-duty paramedic from Seattle,” Moore said, “who witnessed the accident and rendered initial aid to the individuals.”

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

Ed. note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the time the accident took place.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

 

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