DPS: I-10 crashes due to dust, wind north of Picacho Peak

Authorities say three people are dead and more than a dozen are injured after multiple Interstate 10 crashes north of Picacho Peak were caused by dust and high winds Tuesday afternoon.


Department of Public Safety officials said there were several serious injury collisions on westbound Interstate 10 at milepost 214 involving 19 vehicles, including several commercial trucks.

Another two-vehicle crash happened in the eastbound lanes that involved minor injuries.

Twelve people were transported to hospitals in both Tucson and Phoenix, including the University of Arizona Medical Center, Banner Good Samaritan and St. Joseph Hospital.

Authorities identified one of the victims in the deadly crash as 77-year-old Gordon Lee Smith of Mead, Washington. His wife was transported to a nearby hospital after the crash. No word on her condition.

The identities of the other victims nor the conditions of those injured have not be released.

Officials shutdown I-10 in both directions because of the crash. Around 8 p.m., the eastbound lanes reopened. The westbound lanes reopened around 10:30 p.m.

Air15 video showed several commercial vehicles piled up against each other in the roadway, while others were tipped on their sides. Several emergency vehicles and personnel could be seen evaluating the scene. Fuel covers a portion of the road and onto the side of the freeway.

At least one person was seen receiving medical attention on a stretcher.

Chief Meteorologist Amber Sullins says southwest winds are kicked up dirt over the desert floor just to the west of I-10, and that's what caused blowing dust across the freeway, drastically reducing visibility.

Visibility as low as 10 feet has been reported in the area. Amber warns visibility will continue to be erratic through this evening, and urges drivers to remember to "Pull Aside, Stay Alive" if you get caught in blowing dust.

First Responders are comparing this pileup to a similar incident that occurred on Oct. 4, 2011, where one man was killed and 23 others injured after a dust storm reduced visibility to zero. Sixteen cars were involved in that accident that shutdown the Interstate 10 for hours.

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