Man arrested after wreck closes part of I-17; 2 injured

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on July 30, 2014 at 7:16 AM

Updated Thursday, Jul 31 at 2:17 PM

Map: Interstate 17 and Seventh Street

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PHOENIX -- Two people are in the hospital and another is in police custody after an early morning crash that shut down a portion of Interstate 17 near the Split interchange with Interstate 10 in south-central Phoenix Wednesday morning.

It happened shortly before 1 a.m. in the northbound lanes near the Seventh Street exit.

According to the Department of Public Safety, a man and woman in a white Camry had pulled onto the right shoulder so the man could check the car's engine.

He had just gotten back into the car when a pickup truck hit it from behind. The impact pushed the Camry all the way across the freeway. Both vehicles came to a stop in the fast lane.

The driver of the pickup, later identified by DPS as Kyle Cruz, checked on the couple in the Camry and then ran away. Police caught up with him on some nearby streets. They arrested him without further incident.

Police believe Cruz, 25, might have been impaired when he hit the Camry.

The woman who was in the Camry's passenger seat suffered serious injuries and was taken to a local hospital. The man who was behind the wheel suffered minor injuries. He was transported, as well.

Investigators say that man was lucky. Things would have been very different had he not been in his car.

"The freeway is a very dangerous place to pull over," DPS Sgt. Brent Leslie said. "If [drivers] can get their car off, limp their car off, they'll be much better off. There's no reason, unless you really, really have to, to stop on the freeway.

"If you have a flat tire or you're over-heating, take your car to the next exit," he continued.

I-17 was closed in the area for about five hours. It reopened at about 6 a.m., just in time for rush-hour traffic.

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