Victims of deadly Loop 202 crash identifiedPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Two people are dead and three more, all younger than 15, are in the hospital after a crash on westbound Loop 202, and a flat tire is to blame.
It happened near 44th Street at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
According to the Department of Public Safety, a pickup truck rear-ended a Ford SUV that had a flat back tire and was stopped in the HOV lane.
DPS said the driver of the SUV, now identified as Flor Idalia Yanez-Holguin, 19, got out and tried to direct traffic around her crippled vehicle.
A Toyota pickup, however, rear-ended the stopped SUV and then rolled over, coming to rest on its roof.
Two women who were in the SUV died on the scene. Josefina Holguin-Urquiza, 42, was in the front passenger seat. The other woman was identified as Silvia Mistica Rivera Holguin, 19.
Maireli Yanez-Holguin, 14, suffered serious injuries and was taken to Phoenix Children's Hospital.
Yesenia Yanez, 12, also suffered serious injuries and was taken to Maricopa Medical Center.
Aolanis Luque-Rivera, a toddler, also went to Maricopa Medical. According to DPS, the little girl suffered "multiple life threatening injuries."
The children's conditions were not immediately available Monday morning. It's not clear if they were properly restrained in the SUV.
The driver of the pickup that hit the stopped SUV, Oscar Lopez, 30, of Litchfield Park, was treated at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital. He has since been released.
DPS spokesman Bart Graves said Yanez-Holguin, the driver of the SUV who was out of her vehicle when the pickup hit it, was the only one not injured in the wreck.
It's not clear if the weather and the slick roadway were factors in this wreck, but DPS says the crash is a tragic reminders for everyone: If you have car trouble or a flat tire, pull over to the right, as far as possible off the roadway.
If you can, DPS says getting off the freeway is the best course of action, although it's not always possible.
"It may sound bad. It may even damage your rim," DPS Sgt. Damon Cecil said. "It's going to be a lot better than ending up like what happened here, where people ended up losing their lives."
Safety experts say hazard lights are helpful in such situations during the day, but confusing to other drivers at night. They also suggest you try to coast along until you're a safe distance away from any curves behind you and hang a piece of white cloth or paper out of your driver's side window.
Finally, DPS says you should stay in your vehicle and if you have a cell phone, you should call for help immediately so law enforcement can come keep you safe.
This is not the first time a flat tire has caused a fatal wreck on an Arizona freeway.
In November, a man was killed when he rear-ended a semi that had a flat. Rather than pulling off to the right, the driver of the rig had stopped in the middle of Interstate 10 near State Route 143.
Westbound Loop 202 was closed in the area of 40th and 44th streets for several hours while DPS conducted the on-scene portion of their investigation, but it has since reopened.