Woman recalls witnessing avalanche on Interstate 90 near St. Regis

Posted at 1:15 PM, Feb 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-17 15:15:09-05
Syleena Simkins, who found herself caught in the avalanche, spoke with MTN News.

ST. REGIS – The westbound lanes of Interstate 90 from St. Regis to the Idaho border reopened Thursday evening after avalanches shut down the highway for 26 hours.

A driver caught in that avalanche shared her terrifying experience of trying to escape the slide..

“We were coming down and it was about 2 o’clock-ish and my daughter looked up at the mountain and she said ‘What is that?’” Syleena Simkins recalled. “And I said, ‘That’s an avalanche’ and she goes, ‘Why is the car making that noise?’ and I said, ‘because we are going fast.’”

St. Regis Avalanche
An avalanche shut down the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 near St. Regis. (Photo Credit: Trebb Rainey)

“It was pretty bad though. I mean there [were] three big different piles of snow kind of together. As I looked over there were definitely cars underneath. There were trucks that were covered in snow and a long couple of miles of just traffic,” Simkins added.

It was a terrifying experience that Simkins said she didn’t even witness with her own eyes as she was to busy trying to escape the snow.

“I was pretty scared. I actually didn’t really…wasn’t really looking at it.  I was just concentrating on the road and then my daughter said ‘What’s that?’  That’s when I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. let’s get out of here,’” Simkins said.

“She said, ‘There is a lot of snow covering the cars mom,’ And I was like, ‘That’s an avalanche.’ And she said, ‘What would you do if you were in an avalanche mom?’ And I just started to think I don’t really know,” Simkins added.

The highway was closed westbound between St. Regis and Lookout Pass and during the closure on Thursday, five semi-trucks crashed in the eastbound lanes of I-90 near the Taft interchange.

-Reported by Connor McCauley/MTN News