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Black Ice Chaos & Carnage in Utah


0 9acf7By Jim "Buck" Sorrenti

What started out as a usual winter call turned into chaos and carnage for Utah tower Wayne Hall. He is the owner/operator of Mountain Towing & Recovery in Cedar City, Utah, established in 1994.

One frigid night on March 15 on I-15 in Parowan, Utah, a tragedy involving six human lives and a family pet was narrowly avoided.

"We had been experiencing a late stormy season and it all started off with a Geico call for a tire change on I-15," Hall said. "I sent operator Justin Mosher out in our classic 1985 Chevrolet C-60 with Vulcan 868 10-ton twin-line to change the tire."

Their next call came in at approximately 9:30 p.m. It was a private request from a father whose son had slid off in the same area. Hall took the call himself.

"As I was driving in my 1983 Chevrolet K-30 with Century 402 light-duty," Hall said, "patrol cars behind me executed the slow down maneuvers giving me a safe distance from speeding traffic, which was heavy in both lanes. I arrived to find the young man mired in deep mud."

As Hall was recovering the Focus, his wife called to inform they had a rotation call from UHP to handle a rolled over Jeep on its top in the V of the median a half mile north. Operator Jeff Rexrode responded in their 1992 International 4900 with 22' WeldBuilt carrier.

Hall headed north to assist Rexrode on the Jeep recovery. He had a difficult time pulling over to the left shoulder.

"I barely got over and drove into the median ahead of the UHP cruiser," Hall said. "I got out and spoke with a trooper and Jeff about a plan. The trooper needed to respond to another accident and was trying to put two women in my wrecker. We had a young man and his puppy already in our International."

As they were talking, Hall noticed a semi start to slide as it headed toward their vehicles in the inside lane.

"I saw the tractor and trailer start to go sideways and yelled 'Run!,' " Hall said. "The three of us sprinted down the median to get away. It was no more than two seconds to get clear of the impact that was estimated at 70 mph, and the tractor was pitched to the right and its tandems slammed my duals.

"The front of trailer was ripped open when it slammed the passenger side leading edge of our bed and collapsed its belly/floor. This was too close for comfort. The next thing I remember is the chaos and carnage everywhere," he said.

Luckily, no one was hurt.

Iron County Sheriff's deputies closed the northbound lanes in the area of the crash while multiple tow companies came together to clear up the wreckage. All Ways Towing of Cedar City was called for the semi and Above All Towing, also of Cedar City, was called for UHP cruiser.

"The Jeep was still sitting upside down, and we were waiting for clearance to move anything from the accident scene," said Hall. "Laramy Brindley of Ladd's Towing was in the vicinity with his wrecker right about the time of the accident. Being that the Jeep wasn't part of the second accident, he offered to pull the Jeep up to the shoulder with his 2006 (Ford) F-550 and Century 612 twin-line."

Next was getting the International back to Hall's shop. The engine had shut off. The spring that went to the shut-off solenoid was gone, so he wired it forward and the DT-466 fired up. Rexrode climbed in the 4900 and Brindley from Ladd's pulled with the 612, sliding the carrier away from UHP cruiser.

"Derrick from Above All came in a '90s Freightliner FL-60 rollback and I helped him load the crumbled UHP cruiser, which he took back to the UHP yard," Hall said. "Once the cruiser was cleared, I backed the old K-30 out and hooked to the Jeep that was awaiting at the shoulder and took it to our yard. All Ways came for the wrecked semi and a UDOT loader pushed most of the scattered load off on the shoulder.

"The semi tractor had a shredded tire or two on its left side from slamming our duals. They were able to limp it back to the yard after unloading and chaining the collapsed belly. They used flatbeds including the one from Bradshaw Towing, a Bobcat and an extra dry van to pile scattered mixed load. They returned in the morning to clean up the shoulder of I-15."

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim "Buck" Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com ; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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