Driver bounces over boulder field off I-15 but averts 7 years bad luck in mirror-aculous crash

Tow truck operators remove a Pontiac Grand Prix from the scene of a one-vehicle crash off Interstate 15 near mile marker 36, Washington County, Utah, Aug. 18, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

WASHINGTON COUNTY — A driver went off the edge of Interstate 15 Saturday morning, sending his car crashing down a steep, boulder-filled hillside.

Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Larry Mower said the incident was initially reported at approximately 7:30 a.m. by a passing motorist on the southbound side of the interstate.

Scene where a white Pontiac Grand Prix left the east side of northbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 36, Washington County, Utah, Aug. 18, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Mower said the initial information provided to dispatchers had given mile marker 33 as the approximate location, but the northbound car had actually left the road a short distance south of the exit located at mile marker 36.

“Initially, the information we got said it was three miles to the south of this location, so we had a little bit of a hard time finding it, because as you can see there’s nothing that looks like there was a wreck up here,” Mower said, noting that there were no skid marks or other telltale signs indicating a car had left the roadway.

UHP troopers and Washington County Sheriff’s deputies searched the area for nearly an hour until one deputy finally spotted the wrecked vehicle, a white Pontiac Grand Prix, nearly 100 feet from the interstate itself and approximately 50 feet down a steep and rocky hill.

“She just had a nagging feeling to keep looking,” Mower said of the deputy who made the discovery. “She was out of her truck and walking along the ridgeline when she found it.”

Responders arrived to find the adult male driver of the Pontiac sitting on a large rock outside the car holding his phone, Mower said, adding that the driver was the vehicle’s only occupant.

The man was taken by ambulance to Dixie Regional Medical Center for treatment of injuries that did not appear to be serious.

“The driver is doing really well,” Mower said. “He complained of pain on the left side from his shoulder to his foot, but he was able to climb up the cliff under his own strength, so that’s a good sign.”

“The airbags saved him,” Mower added.

The driver, who appeared to be in his 20s, is a resident of Mexico who has family in the Southern Utah area, Mower said, adding there was a bit of language barrier involved since the man didn’t speak English.

A large unbroken mirror in the trunk of a white Pontiac Grand Prix that left the east side of northbound Interstate 15 near mile marker 36, Washington County, Utah, Aug. 18, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

“But I speak a little bit of Spanish, and I was able to understand what he was saying and he said that his left front tire had gone flat and it caused him to lose control of the car and he veered off and went over the cliff,” Mower said, adding that there were no obvious signs of impairment. “There’s nothing to indicate drugs or alcohol or any foul play or anything like that,” he said.

No citations were issued.

As tow truck operators were removing the vehicle from the scene, the car’s trunk was opened to make sure there were no valuables inside.

The trooper and the tow truck operators were visibly surprised to see what was inside the trunk. It was virtually empty except for a large mirror in a wooden frame, remarkably and completely intact.

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

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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7 Comments

  • comments August 18, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    “The driver, who appeared to be in his 20s, is a resident of Mexico who has family in the Southern Utah area”. hmm…

    • Jeannette August 18, 2018 at 11:43 pm

      Perhaps no license … legally in US? We’ll never know, and since we have PC laws, it won’t matter.

    • Travis August 19, 2018 at 5:07 am

      No friends of yours visiting for the summer, comments? Deplorable!

    • Billy Bob August 19, 2018 at 9:47 am

      The fact that the car has Utah plates tells me that he doesn’t live in Mexico……….

      • mesaman August 19, 2018 at 10:46 pm

        I noticed that the left front tire was not flat in the photos. Could his language barrier be his defense and his tire his undoing?

  • Mike P August 19, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    If only the police would have known there was a mirror in the car. They could have brought a teenage girl and found the car immediately.

  • comments August 19, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    The problem with illegal aliens driving in this country is that so many of them carry no auto insurance. Whether or not this one has a mexican drivers license or a CA one who knows. But it can be extremely difficult if not impossible to hold them accountable when they cause a wreck. If they cause a severe crash and too much heat is put on them they’ll just go back across the border, and the next time they sneak in they’ll just change their name. Local LE should be able to enforce immigration violations, but our area seems to have some desire to become a “sanctuary city” since probably most of the new construction in our area is being done by crews of illegals. Illegals are good for business I suppose, with the cheap labor and all. Maybe this guy was driving someone else’s car and it had insurance? hmm

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