Doctor: Too many critical patients from crashes at Phoenix intersection

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A doctor says there are too many serious crashes at a Phoenix intersection. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) A doctor says there are too many serious crashes at a Phoenix intersection. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
There is concern about how dangerous the intersection of 18th Street and Northern Avenue is. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) There is concern about how dangerous the intersection of 18th Street and Northern Avenue is. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Sgt. John Howard checked speeds and some drivers were going 55 or 60 miles per hour. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Sgt. John Howard checked speeds and some drivers were going 55 or 60 miles per hour. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Valley doctor is sounding the alarm after he says he’s seen way too many patients coming into the emergency room with critical injuries.

He says they’re coming from the intersection at 18th Street and Northern Avenue in Phoenix.

“I’ve probably seen, at the very least, 10 incidents. I end up seeing head injuries which cause brain damage, injuries to the neck where patients become paralyzed,” said Dr. Victor Zach, a neurologist at John C. Lincoln Hospital.

In the most recent crash, 30-year-old Rachel Davis, a mother of three boys, was killed after she was broadsided trying to make a turn. The collision is still under investigation by the Phoenix Police Department.  

“I wanted to document it so that we can get the information out there and perhaps save other lives,” said Dr. Zach, who witnessed that crash.

“It was extremely difficult as it always is. I absolutely forbade my family from using that intersection,” he said.

3TV knocked on doors near that intersection to find out what people who live and work in the area know about that stretch of roadway.

“It was only a matter of time,” said Gilbert Moore, who manages the vRide office where the windows face the intersection.

He heard the fatal crash on June 30.

“When I looked and saw the car I was like, I didn’t think anybody survived,” said Moore.

He said several times a day he hears horns honking and brakes screeching as drivers try to avoid a collision.

“It’s almost like Russian roulette,” said Moore.

His co-worker, Victoria Castaneda, agrees.

“It’s not safe. It’s not safe at all. There’s a lot of accidents,” said Castaneda, who’s worked at that office for two years.

Dr. Zach, Moore and Castaneda all believe speed is a major issue.

Most drivers are coming off the southbound lanes of State Route 51 where speeds are 65 to 70 miles an hour. The off-ramp flows right onto Northern Avenue where a 40 mph speed limit is clearly posted but rarely obeyed as drivers are very slow to drop their speeds, likely since there’s not a stop sign or stop light at that transition.

Sgt. Jonathan Howard of the Phoenix Police Department agreed to meet 3TV at the intersection to clock speeds and review the roadway.

It was around 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, and a few drivers were going the speed limit, but most were in the unofficial “buffer zone” which is 11 miles over the posted speed limit.

Sgt. Howard clocked several drivers in the mid-50s and some even the upper 60s.

"We have kind of the perfect storm. We have impatient drivers. We have downhill. We have curves in the roadway, and we have people coming from freeway speeds to city speeds,” said Sgt. Howard.    

“We need to recognize the speed limit on the exit ramp and start paying much more attention and obeying those,” Howard said.

We took the issue to the City of Phoenix and Scott Logan, a traffic engineering supervisor.

“We haven’t received complaints about this particular intersection,” said Logan, though his department did review it after the fatal crash on June 30.  

“It’s hard to slow folks down from going 70 miles an hour, 65 miles an hour on SR 51 down to a 40 mile an hour speed limit,” said Logan.

He says the sight distance, several posted speed limit signs on the off-ramp and on Northern, as well as larger stop signs at the intersection are all adequate. The intersection doesn’t make the list of their top trouble spots.

Nevertheless, those who spoke with 3TV want to raise awareness about what they are calling a dangerous stretch of roadway and hope something will be done about it.

“I want somebody to do something,” said Mark Lamb, a resident who lives near the intersection, who thinks more police would help.

“We would like something to be done to make this intersection safer,” said Dr. Zach, who believes a stop light would make a big difference.

Sgt. Howard says driver awareness, patience and education are keys to making the intersection at 18th Street and Northern Avenue, as well as others like it, safer.

If drivers do have complaints about certain trouble spots they want the City of Phoenix to look into, they can call (602) 262-6284.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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