‘Trying to be courteous’: semi driver with oversized load tips, crashes in Iron County

MODENA — A semitractor-trailer tipped over and crashed on state Route 56 in a remote part of western Iron County on Monday morning.

Scene of a semitractor-trailer rollover on state Route 56 west of Modena, Utah, Sept. 20, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

The incident, which was reported shortly after 10 a.m., occurred a few miles west of Modena and about 5.5 miles east of the Nevada border.

Utah Highway Patrol Trooper James Springer said the semi was carrying a large metal grain silo weighing approximately 47,000 pounds on its flatbed trailer. The driver did have the proper permits for the oversized load, Springer said.

Springer told Cedar City News that the driver had reportedly moved over onto the right shoulder a bit to allow more room for an oncoming vehicle.

“He just went a little bit too far,” he said. “He was trying to be courteous and ended up paying for it.”

The truck ended up going off the side of the road, and due to the weight of the trailer and cargo, it caused the driver to be unable to get back onto the road safely, Springer said, adding that the truck then rolled off the opposite side of the road, eventually coming to rest at a diagonal angle almost opposite the direction it had been traveling.

Meanwhile, the silo, which had become detached from the trailer, ended up in the middle of the road’s westbound lane, blocking traffic.

Scene of a semitractor-trailer rollover on state Route 56 west of Modena, Utah, Sept. 20, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Luckily, we had somebody here that was willing to push off with some of their equipment,” Springer added. “It was blocking the lane and Ahern Rentals was able to remove that for us.”

Despite the significant damage to the truck, its driver was able to make it out of the smashed cab with relatively minor injuries, including cuts to his head and face.

Although an Intermountain Life Flight helicopter was initially dispatched, the call was canceled once the driver’s injuries were determined to be minor, Springer said, noting that the man was planning on going to the hospital with a coworker to be checked out later.

“He was wearing a seat belt,” Springer said. “We don’t currently suspect that he that he fell asleep or anything like that.”

Another driver from the same Illinois-based company had been following behind, with his rig carrying an almost identical load. That second driver stopped to help his coworker while the scene was cleared.

Vehicles over 10 feet wide will be required to use a 224-mile detour around the Virgin River Gorge starting in early April 2019 | Map from Arizona Department of Transportation, St. George News | Click to enlarge

Springer said the incident serves as a cautionary reminder for the many semi drivers carrying oversized loads who are now having to use SR-56 and other relatively narrow two-lane roads as part of the 224-mile detour from Interstate 15 during Arizona’s Virgin River Bridge improvement project, expected to last until the spring of 2023.

“It’s especially difficult because these shoulders are deceiving,” he said. “This little bit of shoulder that we have on the right-hand side, it usually is good enough for cars, but when you have wide loads and heavy loads, it makes it a bit more difficult.”

Traffic in the area was impacted for more than an hour while the scene was cleared, including having vehicles pass through via a single lane on an alternating basis. Heavy equipment and tow trucks were summoned to remove the wreckage.

In addition to UHP troopers and Gold Cross Ambulance personnel, firefighters from nearby small towns like Beryl and Newcastle also responded to the incident.

This report is based on information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings. 

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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