DPS pilot, 2 BMX riders killed in crash on U.S. 93 north of Wickenburg


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Gibby Parra

Posted on September 21, 2011 at 7:39 AM

Updated Friday, Sep 23 at 3:22 PM

Map: Wickenburg, Arizona

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WICKENBURG, Ariz. – Three people, including a civilian employee of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, were killed in a head-on wreck north of Wickenburg Tuesday night.

It happened shortly after 8:30 p.m. at milepost 188 on U.S. 93, which is about 12 miles north of Wickenburg.

DPS spokesman Bart Graves identified the department's employee as Matthew Uhl, a civilian rotary pilot.

Uhl was driving a DPS vehicle north to Kingman at the time of the crash.

Authorities say a southbound 1995 Ford Explorer may have been attempting to pass another southbound vehicle, a maneuver that put the SUV right in Uhl's path. According to Graves, the SUV was speeding when it collided head-on with Uhl's Chevy Lumina.

Uhl and both the driver and passenger from the SUV were pronounced dead at the scene. Those victims have been identified as BMX riders Rickey Bates, 25, of Florida, and Gary Dimartine, 24, of New Jersey. They were driving to Phoenix from a trade show in Las Vegas

Graves said there were no signs of impairment in either Uhl, who was supposed to fly Wednesday, or the driver of the SUV.

Uhl, who had been with DPS since 2006 and flying as a rotary pilot since 2009, was part of the crew that found the 3-year-old Cordes Lakes girl who wandered away from home with her dog and was lost overnight in February 2010.

Those who worked with Uhl say he was a humble man who enjoyed his job and was good at it.

"Matt never really liked to take the credit for the fine job he did," Graves said Wednesday morning. "He just really wanted to give all the credit to his partners and the people at DPS. He will be missed by all of us in the DPS family."

Uhl is survived by his wife and four children.

Wickenburg is about an hour northwest of Phoenix.

U.S. 93 is the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas. While the highway was closed for hours overnight, it has since reopened.