Motorcycle riders killed in freeway ramp fall

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Two people died early Saturday morning after their motorcycle crashed into a wall on the I-17.

The man and his female passenger were merging onto the I-17 north from the I-10 west when they apparently struck the concrete wall of the transition ramp and were ejected from the bike, said Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Jacob Pruet.

They have been identified as John Carlos Sorto, 26, of Tempe, Ariz. He was driving the motorcycle.

His passenger was Audry April Smith, 25, of Tonalea, Ariz.

Friends riding behind the man and woman told officers they did not see the collision but saw the motorcycle still moving with no one in the seat.

Pruet said the bike traveled upright for a few hundred feet after the occupants were ejected.

The man and woman were wearing helmets but fell 120 feet from the ramp to the ground, Pruet said.

They landed in a gravel area near the McDowell Road exit and were pronounced dead at the scene.

The area was closed to traffic between 4:30 a.m. and 8:09 a.m.

Officers do not believe excessive speed was a factor but said the collision is still under investigation.

Pruet said there was no evidence of alcohol but whether impairment was a factor will be determined with a toxicology report.