Traffic moving again after hundreds were stuck in Virgin River Gorge

Posted at 8:40 AM, Dec 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-08 23:24:48-05

SOUTHERN UTAH -- Traffic is slowly moving in the Virgin River Gorge after it was closed Saturday night, officials said Sunday afternoon.

About 300 motorists were trapped in the gorge stretch on Interstate 15 between Mesquite, Nev. and St. George Saturday night, said spokesman Bart Graves for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

I-15 is now reopened in both directions, Arizona officials tweeted Sunday.

Utah Department of Transportation had set up a hard closure on I-15 in Utah at exit 2 going south. All southbound traffic was re-routed into St. George, but traffic resumed moving in the area Sunday.

The I-15 stretch was closed Saturday at midnight due to heavy snow and low visibility, Graves said.

Graves said most of the collisions occurred on the north end of the gorge with vehicles sliding off the road, semi-trucks jack-knifing and cars getting stuck between semis.

"Throughout the night people were literally stuck in their vehicles," Graves said Sunday. "With the help of Washington County Search and Rescue we were able to get them gasoline to keep their cars going, food, blankets and water and so on."

Allie Stokes was a passenger in one of the stuck vehicles, and she said they spent a long time waiting.

"We got stuck at about 10 o'clock at night," she said. "We moved about 300 yards at 1 o'clock. At 5 o'clock, we moved about 100 yards."

Even though traffic is moving through the area again, Highway Patrol officials recommended that people avoid traveling in the area, and if it is necessary to use an alternate route.