ST. GEORGE — Police say a driver who mistakenly turned the wrong way onto an exit ramp caused a head-on collision on Interstate 15 Monday.
The incident happened shortly after noon on the southbound I-15 collector road that spans Exits 5 and 6, connecting the onramp at the Bluff Street exit with the off-ramp at Dixie Drive.
Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Jake Hicks said the 89-year-old female driver of a white Dodge Charger turned left from Dixie Drive and started heading north in the southbound lane of travel.
“Then, the other vehicle, I believe, had just entered the freeway in the correct direction, which was a silver Ford Focus and was also in the middle lane,” Hicks told St. George News.
“They ended up hitting head-on, or offset head-on, driver’s side to front driver’s side,” Hicks said. “There didn’t appear to be any braking involved.”
Firefighters and other responders at the scene used hydraulic tools to cut the roof of the Ford Focus in order to extricate its driver, who was described as a 19-year-old male from the St. George area.
An Intermountain Life Flight helicopter landed at the scene and transported the man to Dixie Regional Medical Center, where he was listed in serious but stable condition.
Meanwhile, the Dodge driver, also a local resident, was taken to the hospital via Gold Cross Ambulance. She was also described as being in serious but stable condition.
Besides the drivers, there were no other occupants in either vehicle, Hicks said.
“The good thing about this story is they were both wearing seat belts,” Hicks said. “Had they not been, the outcome would have been much different. In my opinion, the seat belts and airbags worked together to save their lives. They were seriously injured because of the nature of the crash, but they survived that horrific crash because of the seat belts.”
Traffic in the area was impacted for more than an hour while responders worked to clear the scene.
“We blocked the on-ramp from Bluff Street going southbound on I-15 and also blocked the Exit 5 off-ramp,” Hicks said. “That was blocked for about an hour while we did the medical care and investigation.”
In addition to Utah Highway Patrol troopers and emergency medical responders from Life Flight and Gold Cross Ambulance, personnel from the St. George Police and St. George Fire departments also responded, along with Utah Department of Transportation incident management.
Hicks said the incident appears to be a case of driver error.
“I think it was just a mistake, mistaking which left to take from Dixie Drive to go north on I-15,” he said.
This report is based on information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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