If you were traveling on Interstate 15 in the Pocatello area on Friday afternoon, you likely got stuck in at least one traffic jam.
That’s because there were three wrecks that sent five people to the hospital. And a short time after that a vehicle caught fire on the interstate in an unrelated incident.
The three crashes all occurred during a very busy one-hour span for emergency responders.
The first two crashes were in Bingham County and the third was near Chubbuck. The crashes happened between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. and were followed by the vehicle fire on Interstate 15 near Inkom that caused additional traffic delays.
The first crash occurred at about 12:30 p.m. between Fort Hall and Blackfoot when Sylvia Ofori, 27, of Pocatello, was driving northbound in her 2003 Hyundai Sonata. Another vehicle abruptly entered Ofori’s lane, causing her to drive off the left shoulder of the interstate. Her vehicle entered the median and overturned.
She was transported via ambulance to Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello, where she was listed in stable condition on Friday evening. She was wearing her seat belt during the crash.
The second accident involved three vehicles and happened at about 1 p.m. on the same stretch of Interstate 15 between Fort Hall and Blackfoot as the first wreck.
Northbound traffic on the interstate had slowed because of the earlier wreck and this played a role in the second accident.
State police said Kelli Downing, 54, of Boise, was driving a 2000 Toyota Camry northbound when she failed to yield to the slowing traffic and rear-ended a 2003 Ford Taurus driven by Colton Carter, 21, of Livingston, Montana. The Taurus then crashed into a 2013 Chrysler 200 driven by Lydonna Stephenson, 17, of Blackfoot.
All three of the passengers in Downing’s Camry — Laura Simmons, 39, of Boise; Tammy Wilson, 33, of Las Vegas; and Jane Foreman, 61, of Boise — were transported via ambulance to PMC following the crash. They were all treated and released from the hospital Friday afternoon. No one else was hurt in the collision.
Authorities said they aren’t sure what direction the two vehicles involved in the third wreck were traveling, but both ended up in the median just north of Chubbuck.
The collision occurred at about 1:30 p.m. and resulted in a woman being transported via ambulance to PMC. Authorities had not released the woman’s name as of Friday evening but they did say she was still at PMC receiving treatment for non-life threatening injuries.
The vehicle fire occurred on Interstate 15 southbound north of Inkom around 2:30 p.m. and Pocatello Valley Fire Department units responded and quickly extinguished the flames. Apparently the vehicle’s engine caught fire and the motorist pulled over to the side of the road and dialed 911. There were no injuries. Further information on that incident, including the motorist’s name, has not been released.
The four incidents on Interstate 15 Friday afternoon resulted in temporary lane closures and backed up traffic for much of the afternoon.
Idaho State Police said the wrecks are still under investigation.