6 Confirmed dead, 16 injured in bus wreck on I-10 south of Phoenix

Posted: Updated:

GILA RIVER INDIAN RESERVATION -- The Department of Public Safety has confirmed that six people were killed and 16 others were hurt in an early morning wreck involving a bus on westbound Interstate 10 at milepost 174 near the Gila River Bridge. That's just past State Route 587, south of Ahwatukee near Sacaton.

According to DPS it happened just before 5:30 Friday morning.

Aerial video showed emergency crews from several agencies breaking out windows, trying to remove victims from the mangled bus. Medics set up a triage area on the freeway to treat the injured. A total of five medical helicopters were called out to the scene.

Two 11-year-old children, a boy and a girl, reportedly were among the injured.

Eight of the patients, including the 11-year-old boy and the bus driver, were taken to Maricopa Medical Center.

"We're seeing broken spines, broken pelvises, broken ribs -- pretty severe injuries," said Michael Murphy.

While it's not clear exactly what led up to the wreck, DPS said the driver of the bus lost control after apparently rear-ending a pickup truck. Nobody in that truck was hurt.

The bus, which is owned by a Los Angeles company called Tierra Santa and was carrying a total of 22 people, swerved and then rolled over off of the freeway. Several people reportedly were thrown from the bus when it rolled.

The bus reportedly was coming from Durango, Mexico. A new driver took over when the bus crossed the border in El Paso, Texas. While the bus was supposed to stop in Phoenix before heading on to Los Angeles. It's about a six- to seven-hour drive from El Paso to Phoenix.

3TV has learned there is evidence that the tour bus company, Tierra Santa, may have been operating illegaly.

One lane was re-opened at about 3:20 p.m. for westbound traffic on I-10. A DPS spokesperson says they expect to have the other lane of travel re-opened by 5 p.m.

The eastbound lanes are open near the wreck scene, but traffic is moving very slowly.