1 killed, several hurt in massive pileup on I-10 south of Phx; dust storm to blame

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on October 4, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 5 at 4:22 PM

Map: Picacho, Arizona

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PICACHO, Ariz. – One person is dead and several were injured due to a series of crashes on Interstate 10 near Picacho Peak after a massive dust storm rolled through the area Tuesday, cutting visability to near zero.

According to Bart Graves with the Department of Public Safety, 16 vehicles, both commercial and passenger, were involved in those crashes that occurred in the westbound lanes shortly after noon.

DPS said a 66-year-old man from Austin, Texas, was killed and his wife, who was driving, is in critical condition. They have been identified as William Joseph Tatsch and Paula Fry Tatsch, 65. Graves said their Honda sedan collided with a large freight truck. The car traveled under the rear of the truck after impact.

Another victim has life-threatening injuries and several others were treated for non life-threatening injuries.

The freeway was closed in both directions, but eastbound I-10 was re-opened just before 6 p.m.

DPS was recommending drivers use State Route 79 as an alternate.

Aerial video showed dozens of emergency crews working with patients along the roadway.

At 1:44 p.m., DPS officers responded to another chain-reaction crash in the eastbound lanes of I-10 near McCartney Road north of Casa Grande. Eight commercial vehicles and passenger cars were involved in that dust storm-related crash.

Multiple injuries were reported, but they were not believed to be life-threatening.

The storm system that caused the massive pileup moved north toward the greater Phoenix area.

At 3:49 p.m.,  there was a collision involving two tractor trailer rigs and a small passenger car in the westbound lanes of I-10 at milepost 175 near Chandler. Two people in the car were seriously injured. The lingering dust storm in the area played a factor in this crash.

The unincorporated community of Picacho is about an hour and 20 minutes south of Phoenix on Interstate 10 in Pinal County.

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