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‘This corner is notorious:’ Fire chiefs warn motorcyclists about section of Gunlock Road

Jun 8, 2023, 7:17 PM | Updated: 7:38 pm

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah – Fire chiefs in southern Utah are warning about a dangerous stretch of road that’s being called “Motorcycle Rock” because of the number of accidents.

“This corner is notorious,” said Gunlock Fire Chief Charley Guthrie. “If we get a call that there’s been a motorcycle accident we can almost guarantee that it’s on this spot.”

The sharp corner has an off-camber slope and is located just north of mile marker 11 on Gunlock Road. The corner comes right after a straightaway and speed is a factor in most of the crashes, Guthrie said.

The most recent crash happened over Memorial Day weekend and resulted in a miraculous rescue of 24-year-old Jacob Nilson of St. George.

Nilson headed out on an afternoon motorcycle ride on Sat. May. 27 on Gunlock Road. He doesn’t remember much about the accident that launched him more than 60 feet into a ravine.

“My left hand was broken and my ribs were broken and my foot was broken,” he said. “So there was no way I was moving out of there.”

Because of poor cell phone coverage in the area, Nilson struggled for more than 90 minutes to get a call to connect with 911.

“I just knew I had to get that call out because there’s no other way I would be alive today if I didn’t get that call out and it was really important that I stay awake that long,” he said. “So I just had to keep trying.”

Once Nilson’s 911 call connected and he described his injuries, he tried to follow the operator’s instructions to put a tourniquet around his bleeding leg using his belt.

“Jake was incredibly fortunate he was able to get a signal out on his cell phone and call for help,” Chief Guthrie said. “Otherwise, he may still be there now.”

When first responders arrived in the area they didn’t see any signs of a crash or spot Nilson. It wasn’t until they looked over the edge of the road and heard him moaning in pain that they found him wedged between a rock and a bush.

“Extremely lucky,” Ryan D’Ambrosio, battalion chief of Dammeron Valley Fire and Rescue, said of Nilson’s rescue. “We’ve seen incidents in the same area with not the same outcome.”

Rescue crews used ropes to get Nilson out of the ravine. He was then transported by medical helicopter to the hospital.

His mom said he’s expected to make a full recovery and thanked those involved in the rescue.

“We’ll always be grateful to those wonderful people for their inspiration and they knew they had some angels on their side,” said Barbara Nilson, Jacob’s mother. “And they knew there was no other way we could have found him or that he could have gotten a call out.”

D’Ambrosio and Guthrie pleaded with motorcyclists to stay safe on Gunlock Road by slowing down.

“Slow down around this turn in gunlock,” D’Ambrosio said. “Our call volumes increase by at least in double in the month of May.”

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‘This corner is notorious:’ Fire chiefs warn motorcyclists about section of Gunlock Road