ST. GEORGE — First responders said a Northern Utah man traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada, for work fell asleep at the wheel inside the Virgin River Gorge Wednesday morning, causing his new GMC pickup to tumble off Interstate 15. 

A towing crew works on a pickup that plummeted off Interstate 15 in the Virgin River Gorge, Cedar Pocket, Arizona, Jan. 17, 2024 | Photo courtesy of Jeff Hunt, Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

The driver suffered what authorities said were severe but non-fatal injuries, including lacerations to his head and some back pain. He was transported to the hospital.

The crash happened at around 8:15 a.m. MST on the southbound side of I-15 at mile marker 16 near Cedar Pocket. 

Jeff Hunt, the chief of the Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, said emergency crews responded to the scene and that the man in his late 40s to early 50s had purchased the vehicle nine days before. The driver told authorities he had a “good night’s sleep,” breakfast and coffee at a St. George hotel before heading out for a business trip to Vegas.

But all he remembers is falling asleep and waking up to be pulled out of his vehicle.

He fell asleep and took down the sign,” Hunt said of how the man’s vehicle ended up. “It went up the hill, then he went back down into the culvert on his roof.”

Hunt said the pickup landed in about the same position as a vehicle that left a sexual assault suspect dead in June 2019 after he went off the highway during a high-speed police pursuit.

The site of the crash was reachable by road, and first responders found the vehicle belly-up with a large amount of debris strewn about from what Hunt said was a lot of cargo in the vehicle. 

“When we pulled him out, he had a huge laceration on his head,” Hunt said, adding that once they got the bleeding under control, the victim was surprisingly coherent. ” You could have seen the whole skull.

“He wanted to walk to the ambulance. His only other complaint is his back hurt but if you rolled over all those times your back would hurt too. For what happened he should have been killed.”

Photo Gallery

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2024, all rights reserved.