Dust storm leads to pileup, I-10 closure south of Valley

PICACHO, AZ - Interstate 10 was reopened Tuesday night following a blinding dust storm that caused three different pileups south of the Valley, killing one man and injuring more than 23 others.

Arizona Department of Transportation officials tweeted just after 8 p.m. that both eastbound and westbound lanes of the interstate had been reopened after being closed for several hours while crews cleared multiple accidents.

According to Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves, 24 vehicles were involved in the two crashes along both eastbound and westbound I-10.

Visibility during the storm was down to zero as thick blowing dust blanketed the area.

"As you can tell, it looks like a war zone right now," Avra Valley Fire Department spokesman Patrick Calhoun told ABC15 crews at the scene. "This is the worst I have ever seen."

The first chain reaction crash reportedly occurred just after noon on westbound I-10, and involved 16 vehicles, including tractor trailers.

Fire officials said crews worked to remove a man in his 70s who was killed when his vehicle slammed into the back of a semi and became lodged underneath. His wife, who was driving the vehicle, was critically injured.

Graves said one other person was taken to a Tucson hospital with life-threatening injuries. "Numerous" others were treated for non-life threatening injuries at area hospitals.

Air15 video showed the sprawling accident scene with the roadway blocked by two dozen commercial and passenger vehicles involved in the pileup.

Photos from an ABC15 crew on scene show a vehicle flipped over and the front of a semi truck taken out.

"A lot of people were lucky to come out of this alive," said Calhoun.

Traffic was backed up at least five miles, and all traffic was being diverted elsewhere while the interstate was closed.

The second pileup occurred almost two hours later just north of Tucson on eastbound I-10 and involved eight vehicles. There were multiple injuries reported, but Graves said none were life-threatening.

A third crash, involving two commercial vehicles and a small passenger car, was reported on westbound I-10 near Riggs Road around 3:40 p.m.

Two people inside the passenger car reportedly suffered serious injuries and had to be extricated from the vehicle.

Graves said the injury collision prompted the closure of westbound lanes at milepost 175 as crews work to clear the scene.

 

 

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