Police: Car traveling ‘too fast for existing conditions’ hydroplanes, rolls off I-15 in Southern Utah

PARAGONAH — A driver escaped injury after his car hydroplaned in the rain and rolled off Interstate 15 north of Paragonah on Thursday afternoon, police said.

Scene of a rollover crash involving a Ford Fusion on Interstate 15 near Paragonah, Utah, Aug. 18, 2022 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

The incident, which involved a tan-colored Ford Fusion, occurred shortly after noon near mile marker 83 on northbound I-15.

Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Randy Riches said the vehicle appears to have been traveling too fast before it hydroplaned and rolled into the center median, coming to rest on its passenger side.

A witness who said he had been passed by the car just minutes before it crashed told Cedar City News that he estimated that it was traveling around 80 mph, despite there being standing water on the road, with low visibility due to heavy rainfall.

The witness, who called 911 to report the crash, added that when he went to check on the driver who was still inside the car, the driver allegedly told him he had set his cruise control to 80.

Although UHP investigators have not yet confirmed whether cruise control was a factor in this particular incident, Riches did address the issue of people driving too fast in bad weather.

“We’re not necessarily seeing people speeding, but we are seeing people going too fast for existing conditions,” Riches told Cedar City News at the scene. “So here we had standing water on the roadway and limited visibility because of the heavy rain.”

The Fusion driver was not injured in the crash, Riches said. However, the vehicle sustained heavy front-end damage and needed to be towed from the scene.

Impact to I-15 traffic was minimal, as the vehicle ended up well off the roadway.

Riches said the following reminders are good safety tips for driving in rainy weather conditions:

  • Slow down, especially if there is standing water or mud on the roadway. Turn on your flashing hazard lights to alert other drivers that you are moving slowly.
  • Allow ample following distance between vehicles, even more than the usually recommended two seconds.
  • Don’t use your cruise control. Avoid braking suddenly, swerving or making other abrupt maneuvers.

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