Authorities: Slow speeds and cellphone responsible for early morning rollover

No major injuries were reported following an early morning crash Tuesday on Interstate 15 at milepost 80, according to the Utah Highway Patrol, April 18, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Daniel Nielson, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY – A man authorities said was driving dangerously slow on the freeway was hit from behind early Tuesday morning causing his vehicle to tip over on its side and eventually roll.

The 73-year-old male driver of a 1964 Volkswagen Van was traveling north at about 55 mph without hazard lights when a female driver of a 2011 Subaru Impreza crashed into his vehicle. The crash occurred at around 1:30 a.m. on Interstate 15 at milepost 80.

No major injuries were reported following an early morning crash Tuesday on Interstate 15 at milepost 80, according to the Utah Highway Patrol, April 18, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Daniel Nielson, St. George News / Cedar City News

Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Nielson said the 28-year-old Subaru driver was traveling at normal speeds of 70-75 miles per hour and was unaware of how slow the VW in front of her was going.

Right before impact, she glanced over at her cellphone that was ringing at the time, Nielson said, and when she looked back at the road she was too close to stop.

“She looked up and saw the tail lights of the VW and realized she wasn’t going to be able to avoid hitting him,” Nielson said. “She braked, trying to avoid the crash, but there wasn’t enough time or distance between the two vehicles and she hit him.”

The rear wheels of the VW then slid to the right causing the vehicle to slide in and out of both lanes of traffic. At one point, the vehicle tipped over on the passenger’s side after the wheels hit the right shoulder of the road and the driver overcorrected, Nielson said.

The VW then began sliding on its side from east to west on the interstate. The corner of the vehicle hit dirt and gravel on the west shoulder causing it to roll to the east side of the road where it finally came to rest on its roof.

The VW had both the driver and a passenger while the Subaru driver was alone.

There were no major injuries reported and the VW parties refused medical entirely while the Subaru driver who reported chest pains was checked out and released on scene.

“The chest pains were likely caused by the seat belt,” Nielson said.

Both drivers received written warnings.

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

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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7 Comments

  • Rainbow Dash April 19, 2017 at 8:45 am

    IMO, both drivers deserved tickets here; the old man for driving so slowly on the interstate that he was impeding traffic and the woman for using her cell phone while driving.

  • The Dude April 19, 2017 at 10:27 am

    He may have been going​ slow, but 55 is maxed out for a 64 VW van. I think the distracted driver was at fault.

    • comments April 19, 2017 at 11:42 am

      Used to see those things every so often. 55 really is about maxed out. what a shame.

  • DB April 19, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    It’s all on the Subaru driver. 55 mph is slow but not THAT slow. I don’t think a ’64 vehicle would have hazard lights, anyway. When our family bought a ’66 Beetle, those newfangled hazard lights were a Big Deal.

  • utahdiablo April 20, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Top speed for a 1964 VW Bus is 81 MPH, that being said, having owned a vintage VW bus, driving anything over 65 is a Thrill ride and in wind? Very thrilling….and no, a 1964 VW bus does not have Hazard Flashers….so hey Udot, raise the speed limit from 80 to 85 so we can even have more accidents as no one seems to drive the limit anyway and UHP is almost non existent on our ever crowded I-15 nowadays

  • Jamboree April 21, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    If the Minimum Speed on that road(as it is on all freeways in Utah under normal conditions) is 45, how can 55 be “dangerously slow?” The be driver was legally operating within the parameters of the road, and there is no expectation of using hazards if you’re driving faster than the Minimum Speed.

    Also that road is stick straight, with no hills. She shoulda seen him way before she got there.

    Finally if he was going 55 and she 75 then her approach Speed was only 20 mph. That’s 29 feet per second. That wa a LOOONG glance at her phone if it took her that long to approach him and hit him on a clear night with no obstructions.

    And so we have an admittedly distracted driver, hitting a legally operating vehicle, driving within the posted parameters of the road, having a rear end collision, which we all know is almost always the rear driver’s culpability, and yet this author seems to be going out of her way to pin it on the driver in front, driving legally, not distracted.

    Why the mental gymnastics to pin it on the driver obviously not at fault?

  • Gonzo1970 April 22, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Aside from the obvious bias this article was written with, I think the investigative journalist did a poor job investigating. In fact, I think there was no investigation done by the journalist at all.

    So, lets play a Real investigative journalist.

    Facts:

    1) 55mph is most certainly Not “Dangerously Slow”. The Minimum posted speed limit on that road is 45mph, he was doing 55mph. Therefore, the driver of the Bus was Not breaking the law.
    2) Bus Driver was doing 55. Car Driver was doing 75. This equates to 29.3 Feet Per Second. Consider night time view distance 1/3 of a mile. (I think its more like 1/2 or more taking into consideration how easy it is to see lights at night time, but we will go with 1/3) 1/3 of a Mile is 1760 feet. 1760 divided by 29.3 equals a nice, even 60 seconds. A “Glance” at your phone – which, even a “glance” IS breaking the law – does not last 60 seconds. Take into consideration the fact that measuring the reduction of speed requires two things to equate. Reaction time and stopping distance. Reaction time is around 32 feet, and braking time is around 38 feet. That is 70 feet. 70 divided by 29.3 is 2.4 seconds to reduce the speed of your vehicle 20 mph. All that tells me is the driver of the Subaru was NOT paying attention to the road for a Minimum of 57.6 seconds. This is a classic case of Distracted Driving. (and before any mental midget makes a fool of themselves stating something like “at 75mph, your reaction time is 110 feet” – we aren’t measuring that – we are measuring the speed Difference Between the Vehicles, not the vehicle speeds, which are irrelevant.)
    3) Does that crash scene, even to an untrained eye, even REMOTELY look like a 20mph hit? Not even CLOSE. To a trained eye, I see the radiator support for that Subaru absolutely crushed and pushed into the front of the engine. 20mph hit? No way. Absolutely not.
    4) The Maximum Speed of a 1964 VW Bus most certainly is not 81 mph unless it has been Heavily modified. My Bus is newer, with a larger engine, and tops out at 65mph. Either way, it is a mute point as doing 55mph on that highway is Not breaking ANY law.
    5) The 1964 VW Bus does not even HAVE hazard lights, so turning something on that doesn’t exist, isn’t possible. Nor is it against the law, by the way, because hazard lights became mandatory in 1966, and laws mandating them are not applicable to vehicles produced before 1966, which is the case here. Same with seat belts in 1968, by the way. You cannot get a ticket for not wearing a seat belt in a vehicle that did not come with them.

    Do a little research before posting such an obviously biased article.. Or not, I don’t care – the “1964 Volkswagen Van was traveling north at about 55 mph without hazard lights” made me laugh out loud. I will watch your further articles for such comedic gems.

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