Three people are dead, including two Grand Canyon University students, after an overnight wrong-way crash on the Interstate 17 in north Phoenix early Friday morning.
The mother of the victims, Cathy Hocking, identified the victims as Karli and Kelsey Richardson of North Carolina. Karli was slated to graduate from GCU in the spring and Kelsey was in town visiting.
"They wanted to do things first, together, as sisters," Hocking said. "They wanted to drive to the Grand Canyon and be there when the sun came up."
Phoenix Fire Captain Reda Bigler says two vehicles were involved in the crash with Karli and Kelsey in one vehicle and a 22-year-old driver in the other vehicle. All three were pronounced dead at the scene.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety told ABC15 News, the collision involved a wrong-way vehicle traveling southbound in the northbound lanes of I-17 and Greenway.
Authorities say the wrong-way driver was 21-year-old Keaton Tyler Allison of Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was also a student at GCU. He was driving a silver Chrysler Sebring at the time of the accident.
"I feel for the other parents who have also lost a child," Hocking said. "They're all gone. They never got to start their lives really."
The school sent the following email to students on Friday morning:
“It is with great sorrow and heavy hearts that we share the news that three people, including two students from Grand Canyon University, were killed in a wrong-way driver accident last night on Interstate 17. Names have not been released pending notification of families. As a close-knit community of students, faculty and staff, please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers during this tragic time. Pastor Tim Griffin’s office and the entire Student Affairs staff will be available in Building 26 to assist any students who need support or counseling.”
It is with great sorrow & heavy hearts that we share that 3 people, including 2 GCU students, were killed in an accident last night.
— Grand Canyon U (@gcu) April 14, 2017
Officials say the cars collided in the middle lane at a high rate of speed. DPS says there were no signs that either vehicle tried to brake or avoid the collision.
All of the involved occupants were trapped inside their cars following the collision and had to be extricated by fire crews.
DPS says impairment has not been ruled out.
Northbound lanes of I-17 were closed for several hours but reopened after 8 a.m. Friday.