DPS confirms 3 dead in blowing dust collision on I-10 - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

UPDATE

DPS confirms 3 dead in blowing dust collision on I-10

© CBS 5 News © CBS 5 News
© CBS 5 News © CBS 5 News
© CBS 5 News © CBS 5 News
© CBS 5 News © CBS 5 News
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Authorities say they believe low visibility from a channel of blowing dust has caused two multi-vehicle collisions on Interstate 10 north of Picacho Peak, one of them deadly.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety said three people died and more than a dozen others were injured in the pile-ups Tuesday along westbound I-10 at milepost 214.

Several medical helicopters were seen on television footage taking some of the injured to hospitals. Injuries ranged from minor to severe, police authorities said. 

The victims were identified as Gordon Lee Smith, 76, of Mead, WA; Lenny Lubers, 46, of Phoenix; and David Bechtel, 51, of Milton, IA. 

Twenty-one vehicles were involved in the collision. Eleven of them were large commercial vehicles.

"It looks like one big event right now but in reality its probably a series of collisions," said DPS Capt. Brian Preston. "So you may have collisions one and two that became part of three and four."

TV footage showed passenger cars crumpled and tractor-trailers smashed.

The initial 19 vehicle crash, which resulted in three fatalities, occurred within the westbound traffic lanes of the interstate.

A second two-vehicle crash occurred within the eastbound traffic lanes that involved minor injuries and a commercial vehicle.

Members of the U.S. Air Force 48th Rescue Squadron were among those providing initial care to the injured motorists. The squadron happened to be traveling through the area at the time of the blowing dust. 

Following the collisions, they were able to triage and provided critical medical care to the majority of the patients on scene. Members of the squadron also coordinated the on-scene approach and departure of the three responding medical helicopters.

The crash happened just after 12 p.m. The interstate was closed until 11 p.m. At one point, there was a 10-mile backup in each direction, said the Arizona Department of Transportation.

"It's very different than what we think of during the monsoon. In this case, a steady southwest wind created channels of dense, blowing dust. Unfortunately, one of those localized channels of dust ended up over a busy Arizona interstate," Chief Meteorologist Chris Dunn said.

[Related: Blowing dust can occur year round in AZ]

Henry Wallace was one of the first to notice the blowing dust ahead.

"One truck hit another truck," Wallace said. "Cars start piling into each other and they pushed that one truck right into me and off to the side of the road."

Wallace had gotten out of his truck just seconds before.

"I couldn't see anything because the sand was so thick but I could just hear it,'boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.'"

The collisions remain under investigation. 

Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story. Click here to sign up for breaking news alerts. Get up-to-the-second weather updates and alerts from your CBS 5 meteorologists on cbs5az.com/weather.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • UPDATEDPS confirms 3 dead in blowing dust collision on I-10More>>

  • Sidebar: Weather Resources 2015

    Weather Alerts Interactive Map Arizona Web Cams Receive Weather Alerts via Email Follow Arizona Weather on Twitter Like Arizona Weather on Facebook Send Weather Photos & Videos to CBS 5 SLIDESHOW:More >>
    Weather Alerts Interactive Map Arizona Web Cams Receive Weather Alerts via Email Follow Arizona Weather on Twitter Like Arizona Weather on Facebook Send Weather Photos & Videos to CBS 5More >>
  • More Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Jurors watch confession video in trial of Johnnie Hardman

    Jurors watch confession video in trial of Johnnie Hardman

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 8:54 PM EDT2018-05-24 00:54:06 GMT
    Johnnie Hardman (Source: KPLC)Johnnie Hardman (Source: KPLC)

    Jurors heard from a man who was robbed at the Twelve Palms RV Park the day that Joshua Touchet was shot and died.

    Witness Clinton Curtice told how there were three men and that one approached him with a handgun and demanded money.  Curtice identified that man as Johnnie Hardman. Hardman is on trial on a charge of first degree-murder.

    More >>

    Jurors heard from a man who was robbed at the Twelve Palms RV Park the day that Joshua Touchet was shot and died.

    Witness Clinton Curtice told how there were three men and that one approached him with a handgun and demanded money.  Curtice identified that man as Johnnie Hardman. Hardman is on trial on a charge of first degree-murder.

    More >>
  • Invest 90L likely poses little to no threat to SWLA

    Invest 90L likely poses little to no threat to SWLA

    Invest 90L likely poses little to no threat to SWLA

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 7:25 PM EDT2018-05-23 23:25:07 GMT
    Monitoring the Gulf for any developmentMonitoring the Gulf for any development

    The National Hurricane Center continues to highlight an area in Gulf of Mexico for potential tropical development over the next five days. This area to watch is currently located south of the Yucatan Peninsula and strong wind shear will keep this area at a 0% chance of development over the next couple of days before increasing late-week and weekend as it pushes into the Gulf of Mexico.

    More >>

    The National Hurricane Center continues to highlight an area in Gulf of Mexico for potential tropical development over the next five days. This area to watch is currently located south of the Yucatan Peninsula and strong wind shear will keep this area at a 0% chance of development over the next couple of days before increasing late-week and weekend as it pushes into the Gulf of Mexico.

    More >>
  • Proposed financial incentive for finishing I-210 bridge repair project early

    Proposed financial incentive for finishing I-210 bridge repair project early

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 7:04 PM EDT2018-05-23 23:04:35 GMT
    (Source: Monsour’s Photography)(Source: Monsour’s Photography)
    (Source: Monsour’s Photography)(Source: Monsour’s Photography)

    Lake area motorists could be in for long-term delays when the repair project begins on the I-210.  Now there's talk of reducing the impact, by offering financial incentives to finish the project early. According to a news release, The Calcasieu Parish Gaming Revenue District will meet Friday to discuss the proposed local financial incentive for the early completion of the project by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.. The meeting will start at 9:0...

    More >>

    Lake area motorists could be in for long-term delays when the repair project begins on the I-210.  Now there's talk of reducing the impact, by offering financial incentives to finish the project early. According to a news release, The Calcasieu Parish Gaming Revenue District will meet Friday to discuss the proposed local financial incentive for the early completion of the project by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.. The meeting will start at 9:0...

    More >>
Powered by Frankly