River of mud closes highway twice

Motorists traveling between Pahrump and Las Vegas over the weekend were forced to find alternative routes after flooding covered both north and southbound lanes of State Route 160 with water and debris beginning Friday evening.

Nevada Highway Patrol troopers were forced to shut down the roadway near the entrance to Trout Canyon Road after flash flooding caused several vehicles to become stuck and roads impassible.

A thick layer of mud could be seen covering the road underneath a rush of water as troopers moved in to block off the area Friday.

The highway remained closed until Saturday afternoon when northbound lanes were reopened, followed shortly after by southbound lanes.

Traffic continued normally again until Sunday when lanes were closed for a short time due to additional flooding.

As of Monday, it was reported lanes in both directions had reopened.

Pahrump resident Red Britt told the Pahrump Valley Times he was unlucky enough to have driven through a large mud river left behind by the additional flooding Sunday afternoon.

“I do car shows and I took a car up to a car show in Mesquite, they had a little show up there at the Eureka. I was coming back from that Sunday afternoon about two o’clock with the car towed behind my motor home. I’m coming along 160 just into the Clark County side, the next sign up said Nye County line. It was at that time of day if you’re driving along, you know how it gets that wet look on the road in front of you, it’s just an optical illusion. Well, there was five or six or eight of them, and anyhow by the time I figured they’re an optical illusion, that one wasn’t. And what it amounted to was there was somewhere between eight and 10 inches of wet mud across both lanes,” he said.

“I hit that mud at about 55 mph and in about 70 feet my truck was stopped. My lab dog was pretty much on the dashboard, it hit hard. There was no road signs up, nothing. The top of that camper is well over 11 feet in the air and it blew mud clear over the top of it. I was blinded. Well it’s still on the windshield, you can see it. I took the dog water dish and used it and the windshield wipers to clean it off enough to get home. It’s terrible,” he added.

The older model truck was covered in mud from top to bottom after the incident and mud had even found its way into the engine compartment and inside the vehicle as well.

Britt said thankfully his vehicle was still running after taking on a large amount of moisture and he was able to drive himself out of the mud and onto dry pavement at which time he called 911 to report the road conditions.

He said he hoped the large mud wall he sent flying into the air after his vehicle collided with it gave other drivers behind him enough warning to slow down or stop before their vehicles became stuck.

Although it was a shocking event, Britt said he was glad if it was going to happen that afternoon, it happened on his way home after he had already won a prize at the car show.

In addition to stranding several cars and forcing many travelers to find alternate routes to their destinations, the closure of the highway also forced ambulances transporting patients from Pahrump to Las Vegas to take the longer, and more costly, northern route, Pahrump Valley Fire Rescue Service Chief Scott Lewis confirmed.

The flash flooding additionally made it difficult for emergency services to get through to certain areas of the highway to address accidents and emergencies.

Lewis said PVFRS first became aware of the flooding Friday evening after firefighters had been dispatched for a report of a vehicle accident on the highway near the Tecopa Road entrance.

The fire chief said PVFRS crews were unable to cross the moving water and first responders from Clark County had to be called to the accident.

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