A severe dust storm caused a 12-vehicle accident about 35 miles north of Hiko on State Route 318 on Sunday, March 20.
No deaths were reported, but nine people were transported to the hospital. Two had critical injuries.
High winds, travel distance and the number of vehicles created a scene described by county emergency manager Eric Holt as one of the more complex situations local first responders have dealt with in a long time.
Around 2:30 p.m., high winds created zero visibility for motorists. One car stopped on the road, leading to the accordion-style pileup as other drivers could not see the halted traffic until it was too late.
Multiple 911 calls were made to local dispatch. Three Pahranagat ambulances and two fire units were used. Multiple sheriff’s and highway patrol officers were also on the scene. Life Flight was requested, but the helicopter had to turn around due to high winds. Instead, five ambulance units were brought in from Las Vegas to help transport patients.
The highway was closed for several hours, and wind and dust persisted as a large team of people worked the scene throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
“Our first responders, fire, EMS, law enforcement, all did a phenomenal job,” Holt said. “They came out of there just covered head-to-toe in dust.”