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Major accident involving semi shuts down traffic on US 89 in both directions

What started as a beautiful warm spring day last Wednesday, March 23, turned into one of the worst traffic snarls that the Page area has seen in a long time. Traffic came to a complete stop in both directions, just south of the Utah/Arizona border, next to the Pilot station in Greenehaven, Arizona, and until early afternoon, traffic on US 89 was stopped in both directions with traffic backed up for several miles.

Just before 11 a.m., on March 23, Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Troopers were dispatched to a two-vehicle injury collision on US 89 at the intersection of the highway and North Wahweap Drive in Greenehaven, Arizona. According to DPS, a Blue Nissan Pathfinder with Utah plates, registered in Big Water, Utah, attempted to make a southbound turn onto US 89, exiting the Pilot fuel station and convenience store. Apparently, the driver of the Nissan did not notice a semi tractor-trailer delivering Coca-Cola products that was traveling northbound.

The semi attempted to take evasive action, but it was too late to avoid colliding with the Nissan SUV. The semi rotated clockwise, coming to a stop, nearly rolling over, just north of the point of impact, a few feet from the Utah border. The semi came to rest perpendicular to the centerline of the highway, straddling the highway, with the front wheels off the shoulder, in the sand, and the back wheels on the opposite shoulder, completely blocking the highway and unable to move. The semi driver was shaken but unharmed. In the collision, the semi’s fuel tanks ruptured spilling diesel fuel on the ground and the passenger side tire blew out.

At press time, the driver of the Nissan sustained unknown injuries, and had to be extricated from his vehicle, which came to rest just south of the semi, also in the middle of the highway. The driver of the Nissan was taken to Page Hospital by Page Fire Department Ambulance. According to DPS, the driver of the Nissan was believed to be impaired. At press time, the investigation is ongoing.

US 89 was completely blocked for almost three hours causing traffic backups in both directions for several miles. Motorists tried to bypass the accident along the underground fiber optic corridor in the highway right of way but were turned back by law enforcement officials. Other motorists managed to bypass the accident by driving on the old US 89 road, which, while partially paved, is potholed and sandy. Many, including one semi tractor-trailer, got stuck, making the situation even worse.

According to DPS the following agencies responded to the accident: DPS (leading the investigation), Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, Page Police And Fire, Greenhaven Fire Department, Big Water Fire Department, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (NPS), Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Big Water Marshall’s Office, Transport Towing out of Page and Ramsay’s Heavy Towing out of Kanab, Utah, assisted in the accident, eventually clearing the highway for traffic to resume around 2 p.m., Arizona time.

Officer Wischmann of DPS said, “I am amazed the driver of the Coca-Cola truck was able to keep it upright.” As of press time, the driver of the Nissan was injured and survived the accident. No other information is available at this time.

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