BUCKEYE, Ariz. -- On one of the busiest travel days of the year, the day before Thanksgiving, a major Interstate was shut down overnight and remained closed into Wednesday morning.
The shutdown followed multiple collisions late Tuesday night that left a truck driver dead in a fiery crash and several children injured in a separate rollover incident on Interstate 10 west of Phoenix.
Officials did not reopen the interstate until about noon on Tuesday.
The crash occurred on eastbound I-10 near Watson Rd, that's headed toward Phoenix from California. The eastbound lanes of the Interstate were shut down all night and remain closed through the morning.
The driver of a semi truck was killed after getting involved in a multiple vehicle crash. The truck he was driving burst into flames and burned for hours following the crash.
The fiery semi truck crash happened shortly after another crash that happened at about 11 p.m. on Tuesday. According to officials with the Arizona Department of Transportation, that wreck was caused by the driver of a small car who was fighting with a passenger in the car.
Investigators said a 35-year-old man was driving a Honda Civic with his wife, mother-in-law, and 12-year-old daughter. An argument led to the man pulling over on the interstate where he forced the child and the grandmother out of the car. He got back on the road with his wife who told officers her husband continued to beat her while they were driving.
"There was a dispute going on both off the highway then again on the highway," said Sgt. Jason Yeager with the Arizona Department of Transportation. "Once he entered the highway the second time he continued eastbound at a high rate of speed and at some point made contact with another vehicle at a very high rate and forced that vehicle off the road and it rolled."
That driver of the Honda was reportedly traveling as fast as 100 mph, and driving erratically when the car clipped a red GMC Yukon which was also traveling eastbound. The Yukon was driven by a woman with five children inside. The Yukon rolled and all five of the children were ejected from the vehicle and sustained significant injuries. None of the children, ages 4 to 18, was wearing a seat belt, according to officials. At least two of those children remain at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in serious condition but are expected to survive.
There was a backup on Interstate 10 Tuesday night because of that rollover crash. Four cars and 2 semi trucks collided in the backup about 45 minutes after that initial crash. Apparently the driver of the semi truck who was killed was not able to stop and crashed into those other vehicles that were stopped.
"This very last semi truck unfortunately for whatever reason did not stop, collided with semi truck in front of him pushing it into four other passenger vehicles and then the load from that middle vehicle slid off and hit a third commercial vehicle. Unfortunately that last one caught fire and took the life of the individual that was driving it," explained Sgt. Yeager.
A total of 12 people were involved in 2 different crash scenes.
The driver of the Honda Civic suffered serious injuries and has been admitted into the hospital. He will be booked into jail for multiple criminal charges, including aggravated assault, as a result of the crash.
The name of the suspect will not be released until he is either booked into jail or charges are filed with the Maricopa County Attorneys Office.
Eastbound Interstate 10 in the West Valley has been reopened near SR 85 following two serious crashes that occurred Tuesday night. ADOT will close the left shoulder of the freeway in both directions as a safety measure for crews cleaning up debris from the crashes.The speed limit in the area of the crashes will be reduced to 55 mph, also as a safety measure.