3 dead in massive pileup on I-10; victims' names released

3 dead in massive pileup on I-10; victims' names released

Posted: Updated: Nov 5, 2013 04:13 AM
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CASA GRANDE, Ariz. -

Authorities say three people are dead and at least 12 others are injured after a dust storm led to multiple crashes on Interstate 10 south of Casa Grande.

Arizona Department of Public Safety says 19 vehicles, including 10 commercial vehicles, were involved in chain-reaction collisions shortly after noon Tuesday. This happened between milepost 214 and 216.

DPS officials say at least one passenger car was pinned between two 18-wheelers and others were wedged under big rigs.

SkyFOX footage showed several cars that smashed into each other in the middle of the highway with most of the big rigs pulled over on the side of I-10 near Picacho Peak in south-central Arizona.

"One truck hit another truck. Cars start piling into each other, and they pushed that one truck right into me and off to the side of the road. I couldn't see anything because the (dust) was so thick, but I could just hear it, 'Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,'" said witness Henry Wallace.

Several medical helicopters took some of the injured to hospitals in Tucson and Phoenix. One person was reported to be in critical condition.

I-10 was completely back open about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The three killed during the collisions were identified as Gordon Lee Smith, 76, of Mead, Washington, David D. Bechtel, 51, of Milton, Iowa, and Lenny Lubers, 46, of Phoenix.  Smith's wife is among the injured.

The Picacho Peak area is prone to dust storms that develop suddenly and can quickly reduce visibility to zero for drivers.
 
The National Weather Service issued a blowing dust advisory shortly before the crashes, with wind gusts of up to 30 mph reported in the area.

DPS spokesman Bart Graves said Tuesday's crash was one of the worst chain-reaction accidents in that area in the past seven years.

The investigation into exactly what happened is ongoing.

Video: FOX 10's Ty Brennan reports.

Driving in a dust storm: PullAsideStayAlive.org

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press modified.

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