WASHINGTON COUNTY — Eight people were transported – two by Life Flight helicopter from two separate locations – to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George on occasion of two unrelated car accidents Monday resulting in a busy day for Life Flight, Utah Highway Patrol and several other agencies who assisted them. Both accidents were single-vehicle rollovers and each was apparently caused by a blown tire.
“I’ve been doing this for 29 years,” Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Dan Ferguson said, “I’ve never … had Life Flight land on two accident scenes in one day that we’re on.”
The first rollover occurred at about 10 a.m. on state Route 18 near mile marker 24 and involved a black Ford Explorer with three women and two children in it. The second rollover occurred around 2:10 p.m. on state Route 59 between Hurricane, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., involving a white Dodge van with two women and one male teenager in the vehicle.
Both highways had to be totally shut down for 20-30 minutes so that the Life Flight helicopter could land.
No major injuries occurred in either rollover, but several moderate, and minor injuries were reported.
“The people in the Explorer were lucky. The people in the van … I don’t even know how to describe it, they were just outrageously lucky,” Ferguson said. “Whatever their condition is right now it’s ten times better then it probably should have been with that bad of a crash.”
The first rollover involving the Explorer occurred when a tire tread blew off. After the tire blew, the woman driver – three-months pregnant – jerked the wheel, skidded off onto the soft shoulder, and rolled. The Explorer came to rest upside down.
The overall injuries weren’t that bad considering the circumstances, Ferguson said. Life Flight transported the pregnant woman who was complaining of neck and back injuries to the Dixie Regional Medical Center and the rest of the passengers, two other adult women and two children were all transported by ambulance to the hospital. All of the patients were OK, treated and released later on in the day. Everyone in the car was from Washington County.
After inspecting the vehicle, it was found that one side of the car had different-sized tires then the other. “We’re pretty sure that contributed to the accident,” Ferguson said. “The tires on the drivers side were taller and wider then the tires on the passenger side.”
Washington County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Utah Highway Patrol along with a couple fire departments from small towns along SR-18, Ferguson said, and together they got it cleaned up pretty quickly.
The second rollover involving the Dodge van occurred when its rear passenger tire blew. The van was traveling westbound near mile marker 15 which is a 65 mph zone.
After the tire blew, the van crossed into oncoming traffic and flew off the road in a succession of three spins and rolls. The van ended rolling approximately 35 yards off the road and at one point caught enough air to totally clear a barbed wire fence, landing on the other side of the fence in a field.
“It was completely destroyed, the roof was totally caved in,” Ferguson said, “bashed in from top to bottom.”
Both the woman driver and the 14-year-old male passenger were wearing seat belts. However, the woman passenger seated in the middle seat was not wearing a seat belt and by the time the car stopped rolling she ended up in the rear seat, UHP Trooper Grant Hintze said. Hintze was the investigating UHP trooper on the accident.
The 14-year-old boy sustained very minor injuries and was walking around after the accident. The female in the rear seat sustained moderate injuries, relating to her neck and back, and was taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center by ambulance. The entire top of the car had to be cut off to remove the female driver, who sustained what appeared to be moderate injuries. She was then taken by Life Flight to the Dixie Regional Medical Center.
Late Monday night, Ferguson got a report that the driver and front seat passenger were released from the hospital. The middle seat passenger, who ended up in the very back seat by the end of the rollover, was still in the hospital and being treated for neck and back injuries.
Everyone in the vehicle was from the area of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz..
Upon inspection, it was found that the sidewall of the blown tire was cracked and torn. “It probably shouldn’t have been a tire that you were traveling 65 mph on,” Fergeson said.
Assisting the Utah Highway Patrol was the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Colorado City Ambulance and the Hurricane City Fire and Ambulance.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by the authorities and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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