Rock slides cause crashes and delays on Highway 21

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Highway 21 is reduced to one lane and traffic is being diverted after several rock slides near Lucky Peak early Wednesday morning.

The Idaho Transportation Department told KBOI 2News that rain has caused numerous rock slides in the area of Lucky Peak. The highway is closed at Milepost 11.

"It's been a continuous rain of rocks coming down," said Reed Hollingshead, ITD spokesman.

Hollingshead said the Transportation Department sent a snow plow to clear the road after several falling rocks overnight, and the plow was hit by a rock. Idaho State Police says a driver of a pickup truck hit a boulder in the road and crashed.

"We were coming around this corner and the boulders came in front of us -- we couldn't even see anything -- just all dust and the instinct was just to drive through it and we ended up blasting a rock," said Seth Cornell, a Boise County driver.

Cornell said his vehicle hit one of the rocks and punctured its tires.

"I got out and checked it - immediately after that a small Toyota size pickup hit a boulder and it stood him up straight up in the air," Cornell said.

He went over to the injured driver, who complained of bad back pain.

"I had him lie down and made the call to 911," he said.

One person was taken to the hospital but the extent of the injuries are unknown at this time.

Richard Peryer, maintenance foreman for Boise, said this area of Highway 21 often becomes a problem area with heavy rain because rocks on the mountains around Lucky Peak tend to slide down onto the road if it gets wet enough. He says a rock slide of this size, however, is unusual for the area.

"We've had rocks come down here before, usually not to this extent and not as big," Peryer said.

That's why ITD is taking extra precautions to ensure that drivers in the area stay safe. Peryer says his crew will stay on the stretch of Highway 21 near Lucky Peak and maintain one lane of traffic until they're confident drivers are completely safe.

Peryer says crews will begin to clean up rocks and replace railing damaged in the rock slide on Thursday. Travelers can expect delays as long as ITD crews remain on Highway 21.