Man, two young kids killed in crash along westbound I-10 near Casa Grande

A woman and other children were injured in the crash
Casa Grande crash
Posted at 4:56 AM, Nov 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-28 16:46:40-05

CASA GRANDE, AZ — A baby, a toddler, and a man were killed in a crash that shut down westbound Interstate 10 near Casa Grande for several hours Wednesday morning.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officials say the single-vehicle rollover crash occurred around 4 a.m. near milepost 186, near State Route 387.

Officials say a man driving the vehicle went off the roadway into the median, overcorrected, and rolled.

The driver, identified as a 74-year-old man and great-grandfather of the children, died at the scene along with a 3-year-old girl, and a 9-month-old boy (twin).

A woman (mother of the children), a 5-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl, and a 9-month-old boy (twin) were taken to a Valley hospital with serious injuries.

DPS says the family of seven was traveling in a pickup truck from North Charleston, South Carolina to the West Valley.

Bart Graves with DPS says, "We don't believe anybody in that vehicle was in seat belts. We did find booster seats in the wreckage, but it didn't appear that the infants or children were belted into the seats," he said.

Through their early investigation, DPS does not believe impairment was a factor but say the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel.

"We do believe that fatigue may be a factor on the part of the driver," Graves said.

Interstate 10 from Tucson to Phoenix has seen many crashes over the years, especially in the Casa Grande area.

The Maricopa Association of Governments along with ADOT and the Gila River Indian community recently released the early results of a study looking to improve safety along the 26-mile stretch of the I-10, north of Casa Grande, south of Phoenix metro, known as the Wild Horse Pass Corridor.

"It’s the only stretch of I- 10 that is only two lanes in each direction, and we see a number of safety matters throughout the corridor," said Audra Koester Thomas, Transportation Planning Program Manager with the Maricopa Association of Governments.

The plan, she says, would add a third lane to the I-10 in both directions, along with an HOV lane, and some kind of barrier in the median between the two halves of the highway.

"This is a nearly $1 billion project," Koester Thomas said.

Securing funding, she says, will play a major role in completing the project.

The group already has $220 million set aside for the Maricopa County portion of the project, and they have applied for a federal mega-grant to get $360 million more.

However, Koester Thomas says the federal grant money is limited to just $500 million for the entire country, and it's very competitive. If they don't get the grant, she says it could indeed change the scope of the project.

"It would put the project in jeopardy from being fully completed," she said.

Even with the federal money, they will still be short, she says, unless the half-cent sales tax is renewed. Governor Doug Ducey vetoed the tax extension from being placed on this past midterm ballot for voters to decide.

"If we do not receive that federal discretionary grant or have a pathway to a ballot to continue the dedicated half-cent sales tax, we may only be able to fund portions of the project.," Koester Thomas said.

"If the project is fully funded, we can begin construction as early as 2024."

Meanwhile, DPS officials are expecting the highest number of people hitting the roadways for the holidays since 2019 and offer advice for drivers.

"Get plenty of rest," Graves said. "If you're going to travel on off-peak hours, and we do advise that to avoid a lot of traffic snarls, make sure you're rested and you're able to make snap decisions in terms of changing conditions on the roadways," he said. "Fatigue is a big issue with fatal and injury collisions all across this country and especially in Arizona," he said.

Gates says they'll be watching out for impaired drivers over the holidays and the public should do the same.

"We encourage people that suspect that another driver is impaired to call 911 and report that to us in real-time, so our troopers can pull that vehicle over and get them off the road."