I-17 reopened in N. Phoenix after fatal crash

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Interstate 17 is closed in both directions in northwest Phoenix because of a fatal accident and vehicle fire during the morning commute Wednesday. By Mike Gertzman Interstate 17 is closed in both directions in northwest Phoenix because of a fatal accident and vehicle fire during the morning commute Wednesday. By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

I-17 reopens in both directions at Bell Road
 
PHOENIX -- Interstate 17 has reopened in both directions at Bell Road, following an earlier crash, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.
 
A fatal crash occurred shortly before 7 a.m. Wednesday on northbound I-17 near Bell Road. Initially, the interstate was closed in both directions. Southbound lanes were reopened to traffic at approximately 8:15 a.m. Northbound lanes were reopened at approximately 1:50 p.m.

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Fatal chain-reaction accident, fire close Phoenix freeway

PHOENIX (AP) -- A flatbed truck rear-ended four vehicles in a chain collision that set one vehicle on fire, fatally injuring its driver, and spilled the truck's load of brick pavers onto the opposite side of a Phoenix freeway during the Wednesday morning commute, authorities said.

The driver of the vehicle that caught fire after being rear-ended on northbound Interstate 17 later died at a hospital and a second person was critically injured, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said. Identities weren't released.

The truck's driver was given a field sobriety test at the accident scene in northwest Phoenix and then placed in handcuffs to be taken to a DPS office for questioning, said Officer Tim Case, a DPS spokesman.

The accident, the fire and the resulting investigation closed the freeway during the entire morning commute.

The truck spilled approximately 10 pallets of brick pavers onto southbound traffic lanes when it hit the concrete median barrier during the chain collision.

Immediately after the accident, the truck was parked next to the median, the vehicle that burned was behind it in the middle of the traffic lanes. Off to the side, another vehicle was overturned near a freeway ramp.

A witness to the crash said it occurred as traffic began braking.

"I saw all the cars were braking, all the brake lights coming on, except for the semi," motorist Jeff Nelson said. "The semi truck wasn't stopping at all and smashed into the first car, car after car after car after car, just hitting cars, boom, boom, boom."

Nelson said he got out of his vehicle, got a fire extinguisher from a nearby big rig and tried to put out the car fire.

Nelson who was driving to work before the crash called the situation "surreal."

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Wreck, car fire clog Phoenix freeway during rush

PHOENIX (AP) -- Interstate 17 was clogged in both directions in northwest Phoenix because of a fatal five-vehicle accident in which authorities said a flatbed truck rear-ended four vehicles, including one that caught fire.

Northbound I-17 remained closed at Greenway Road for hours after the Wednesday morning accident but southbound lanes were partially reopened at Bell Road.

The accident and the car fire in the northbound lanes caused a big traffic backup on that side of the freeway.

Meanwhile, the truck spilled pallets of brick pavers onto the southbound side of the freeway and clogged traffic there as well.

The Department of Public Safety says one of two people critically injured died at a hospital.

DPS said the person who died was driving the car that caught fire after being rear-ended.

The driver of the semi truck was given a field sobriety test, handcuffed, and taken into custody.

DPS Investigating a Fatal Injury Collision Involving a Commercial Vehicle Along I-17 at Bell Road

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PHOENIX (AP) -- Interstate 17 was closed in both directions in northwest Phoenix because of a fatal accident and vehicle fire during the morning commute Wednesday.

Video showed firefighters extinguish a fire that earlier engulfed a car on the northbound lanes, causing a big traffic backup. Meanwhile, pallets of material spilled from a northbound tractor-trailer rig covered several southbound lanes and clogged traffic on that side of the freeway.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves says at least one person was killed and at least one other person was injured.

Graves says the big rig collided with at least one other vehicle and that a third vehicle overturned.

"I saw all the cars were braking, all the brake lights coming on, except for the semi," said motorist and witness Jeff Nelson. "The semi truck wasn't stopping at all and smashed into the first car, car after car after car after car, just hitting cars, boom, boom, boom."

Nelson said he tried to put out the car fire.

"I ran up to another diesel that had slowed from back behind, asked him for his fire extinguisher," said Nelson. "He grabbed that. I took it up and me and another guy were putting out fires on both sides of the car."

The Department of Transportation says I-17 is closed southbound at Bell and northbound at Greenway Roads.

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