VIRGIN RIVER GORGE, Arizona – Interstate 15 through the Virgin River Gorge in Mohave County, Arizona, saw two accidents Monday morning, one involving a caravan of three semitrailers, or 18-wheelers, and a Lexus SUV; the other was a single-vehicle accident resolved without incident.
At about 8:30 a.m. MDT (Utah), or 7:30 a.m. MST (Arizona), a Lexus SUV traveling northbound on I-15 came upon three semis operating for the same company traveling in caravan from Las Vegas on a pickup run.
According to reports taken by troopers at the accident scene, the Lexus cut in front of the rear semi as they entered the first northbound construction zone in the Gorge, Arizona Highway Patrol Sgt. John T. Bottoms said, where work has wound down to cleanup.
The Lexus proceeded at what the semi drivers described as very fast speed, coming upon the front two semis as they were on an uphill climb entering the construction zone for Bridge No. 6, an active construction zone. Traffic lanes merge into one lane at that point and the speed limit lowers to 45 mph.
“As the 18-wheeler merged over in front of them to the left, (the Lexus) tried to pass and there wasn’t enough room so (it) hit four or five of the orange barrels causing damage to the front of the car and windshield,” Bottoms said.
When the semi drivers stopped to check for injuries, the Lexus driver, Darrell Jackson, and his passenger, Louis Washington, reportedly started running around, taking pictures, arguing and yelling at the truck drivers, Bottoms said. So the truck drivers directed they all move forward to a highway pullout at Cedar Pocket about one-mile from the collision spot, thereby averting traffic impacts.
Jackson was cited for failure to control speed to avoid a collision, he said, and was cited for having no proof of current insurance, and an expired registration.
Both Jackson and Washington complained of sore backs, Bottoms said, and were transported by Beaver Dam Fire Department to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George for examination.
The Lexus, which suffered damage to the front end, a mirror hanging off and a shattered windshield, was secured and left at the pullout at the driver’s request, Bottoms said.
An earlier accident occurred around 7:30 a.m. MDT, 6:30 a.m. MST on I-15 southbound about one mile past the Utah-Arizona state line. Bottoms said the vehicle somehow ended up on its side. The driver was uninjured and called Zions Motors out of St. George for assistance before troopers arrived on scene. The incident was resolved with AHP taking an accident report.
Traffic flow was not obstructed by either accident, Bottoms said, and the construction company would come restore the orange barrels in the construction zone.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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