Fourth person dies in multi-victim motorcycle crash in North Phoenix

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by Jennifer Thomas, Catherine Holland and Alicia E. Barrón

azfamily.com

Posted on March 25, 2010 at 1:37 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 26 at 9:14 PM

UPDATE: A fourth victim involved in Thursday's motorcycle crash in North Phoenix has passed away.

Dayle Veronica Downs-Totonchi, 47, died at the hospital Friday evening from extensive injuries suffered in the multi-vehicle crash.

The investigation into the crash continues.

ORIGINAL: PHOENIX -- Three people were killed and several others, including a Phoenix Fire captain, were injured in a collision involving a sanitation dump truck, eight motorcycles and five vehicles near 27th Avenue and Carefree Highway Thursday afternoon.

The names of those who died were released by police. They have been identified as 67-year-old Clyde R. Nachand, 52-year-old Stephen Punch and 35-year-old Daniel L. Butler.

Phoenix police Officer Luis Samudio said the truck driver, identified as 46-year-old Michael J. Jakscht, failed to control his speed and collided with eight motorcycles from behind and four other vehicles that were in front of the bikes. Aerial video showed several motorcycles wedged underneath the truck.

Firefighters had to put out a fire in the truck, which reportedly is owned by Blue Sky Sanitation.

In addition to the three fatalities, six victims were transported to local hospitals, including Phoenix Fire Capt. Ernie Lizarraga, who was off-duty. The captain and another motorcyclist were airlifted from the scene.

Among the injured individuals is a 47-year-old woman who is in critical condition. A 35-year-old man, a 39-year-old woman and a man whose age has not been provided are all listed in serious condition. A 48-year-old man was treated and released.

Lizarraga, a 22-year veteran of the department, underwent surgery and is listed in critical condition.

None of the people in the cars or the driver of the dump truck were transported.

According to a 3TV viewer, the motorcyclists are members of Phoenix M.C. Kruzer's from Meetup.com, but that has not been officially confirmed.

Christel Werlau and her husband were in the car in front of the motorcyclists.

"I saw some happy riders behind me," she said. "Next we got hit from the back and flung back and forth and my husband yelled, 'Get out of the car, you're on fire!'"

"I saw the bodies lying underneath burning and, oh my God ... horrible," said Werlau's husband.

"I got out and they all were lying...nobody was moving," Werlau said.

Carefree Highway was shut down in both directions between 27th Avenue and Interstate 17 all afternoon and through the night. It finally reopened early Friday morning.

Phoenix police tell 3TV there was no indication that Jakscht was impaired at the time of the collision. No charges have been filed at this time.

The investigation into the wreck continues and is expected to take quite some time.

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