Crashes on Interstate 80 in Sweetwater County yesterday resulted in no serious injuries, but several motorists were stranded on the interstate for hours.
According to Captain James Thomas with Wyoming Highway Patrol, the first crash in the area was reported at about 5:30 a.m. on I-80 westbound around mile marker 95—between Rock Springs and Green River. About an hour later, another secondary crash was reported in the same area. The secondary crash caused traffic to begin backing up with a mixture of passenger and commercial vehicles backed up approximately four miles at times.
Thomas said most of the vehicles stuck in the westbound lanes were able to move by 2 p.m.
Another crash was reported at about 12:30 p.m. and blocking eastbound lanes just west of Green River. Again, traffic was backed up for a few miles with a mixture of commercial and passenger vehicles stranded on the interstate.
For motorists stranded in the eastbound lanes, help was hampered by the inability to get large wreckers to the area to clear large commercial vehicles. This was largely due to westbound lanes being blocked or partially blocked by accidents. As a result, the last of the stranded passenger vehicles were finally about to begin moving from the roadway at about 9 p.m. last night.
Thomas said many passenger vehicles were escorted earlier than 9 p.m., and the frontage road was utilized to transport many stranded travelers.
While poor road conditions contributed to the crashes, Thomas noted many of the incidents reported yesterday were caused by commercial vehicles that were not properly equipped with chains on their tires.
Thomas said WHP Troopers and Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Deputies spoke to many commercial vehicle drivers while traffic was stopped, informing them of the need for chains. In many cases, Thomas said some drivers told law enforcement that they did not know how to equip chains on their tires, causing law enforcement to recruit other drivers to educate them on the installation of chains.
With many travelers stuck on the roadway for hours, Thomas said it is important for drivers to keep a full tank of gas when traveling. While there were no reports of drivers running out of gas while stranded, many said they were concerned about running out of fuel.
“My advice to any driver living in this area is, regardless of the distance between towns, to travel with a full tank of gas just in case you are stuck for a considerable length of time,” said Thomas.