Trucker killed in fiery wreck on I-10 identified

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Two tanker trucks collided and caught fire on westbound Interstate 10 at the Loop 202 interchange Wednesday morning.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said a tanker dairy truck carrying milk or cream rear-ended another tanker carrying 7,700 gallons of diesel gas byproduct shortly before 8 a.m.

The driver of the dairy truck was killed. He has been identified as Rodney Payne, 55, of Mesa. He was hauling an empty milk truck owned by Western Dairy Transportation and was traveling back to Phoenix from the Casa Grande area.

The driver of the tanker truck was Valentino Haley, 29, of New Mexico. Haley was uninjured in the collision.

Aerial video showed the front of the dairy truck, including the cab, fully engulfed in flames. About an hour into the fire, the cab had been destroyed, leaving behind nothing but twisted metal. The trailer of the lead truck also was burning.

Thick black smoke pouring off the fire was visible for miles before firefighters doused the flames around 10 a.m.

As a precaution, Chandler police evacuated a one-mile radius for a short time. That evacuation order included hotels, businesses and Horizon Community Learning Center.

Interstate 10 was closed in both directions from U.S. 60 south to the Loop 202 freeway. The eastbound lanes reopened around 2 p.m. The westbound lanes opened Thursday morning.