ST. GEORGE – A Utah Highway Patrol vehicle was struck by a truck Friday afternoon on Interstate 15, and the resulting traffic congestion led to two subsequent accidents further down the interstate.
At approximately 2:30 p.m., UHP Sgt. Danny Ferguson responded to a call concerning debris in the roadway at milepost 9 on southbound I-15, UHP Lt. Shawn Hinton said. Ferguson pulled over into the emergency lane and turned his lights on. He was outside of his vehicle and waiting for a break in traffic so he could get the debris – a box of lighting equipment – out of the road.
An adult male driving a white pickup truck hauling a trailer failed to notice that traffic was slowing for Ferguson. The driver “dynamited his brakes” to avoid the slowing cars, Hinton said, and ended up skidding into the back of Ferguson’s parked patrol car.
“Fortunately, Ferguson was paying attention and was able to get out of the way,” Hinton said.
If the sergeant had had his back turned to the oncoming truck at the time, it would’ve been a whole different story, he said.
After hitting Ferguson’s car, the truck and trailer ran off the road and came to a stop on an embankment just before the fence that separates the interstate from Red Hills Parkway.
Traffic on southbound I-15 was temporarily blocked as UHP and other agencies responded to the scene. Traffic along Red Hills Parkway also slowed in places as motorists gawked at the accident.
Neither Ferguson nor the driver of the truck were hurt, Hinton said.
Investigation into the incident was handed over to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. WCSO Sgt. Dave Crouse said the driver of the truck was a 59-year-old St. George resident who was given a citation for improper lane travel.
Two other accidents, a three-car accident at milepost 10 and a two-car accident at milepost 12, resulted from the congestion created by the original incident, Crouse said. No injuries were reported in connection with those two accidents.
Hinton said the accident needs to serve as a reminder to motorists to slow down and move over to the next lane when they see an emergency vehicle pulled over, as is required by law. The same applies when motorists see Utah Department of Transportation vehicles pulled over, he said.
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