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Wrong-way driver killed in I-15 collision with truck

Updated December 3, 2019 - 1:45 pm

One person was killed after driving the wrong way on northbound Interstate 15 early Tuesday near downtown Las Vegas.

Trooper Travis Smaka of the Nevada Highway Patrol said a motorist in a silver Jeep “was traveling southbound in the northbound side of the highway” at 3:30 a.m. when it collided head-on with an Amazon tractor-trailer near the Charleston Boulevard off-ramp. The tractor-trailer then slammed into a UPS semitrailer.

The driver of the Jeep died at the scene. The driver of the Amazon truck was transported to University Medical Center with injuries that were not considered life-threatening. The driver and a passenger in the UPS semitrailer were not injured and remained at the scene.

Asked if impairment was suspected, Smaka said, “There’s definitely something. It is not normal for someone to be driving the wrong way down the highway.”

The crash caused a major traffic mess for Las Vegas Valley commuters for much of the day. All northbound lanes of I-15 were closed at Sahara Avenue by 3:45 a.m., causing traffic to back up significantly into Tuesday afternoon. Officials reopened the northbound lanes at 1:30 p.m.

The Highway Patrol said work crews faced a significant task in cleaning up the complex crash site and repairing parts of the interstate damaged by the crash.

“It is a severe crash with a big debris field,” Smaka said before the highway reopened.

There has been a rash of wrong-way crashes in Nevada recently. A 75-year-old woman was critically injured in Henderson on Nov. 22 in a two-vehicle crash in which impairment was suspected. On Nov. 14 — also in the northbound lanes of I-15 — a suspected drunken driver traveling the wrong way was killed in a multivehicle crash. That motorist was identified as 27-year-old Ericka Avila.

In October, authorities said a wrong-way driver on Interstate 80 near Elko was killed in a head-on collision that injured two others.

The Nevada Department of Transportation is implementing a pilot program in the northwest Las Vegas Valley that officials hope will deter wrong-way drivers entering U.S. Highway 95. From 2005 to 2015, there were 409 wrong-way crashes in Nevada resulting in 75 deaths, according to the agency.

Contact Glenn Puit at gpuit@reviewjournal.com or at 702-383-0390. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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