Body found at I-17 & Loop 101, motorcyclist killed in separate incidents

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Ryan O'Donnell and Gina Marvilla

Posted on March 19, 2013 at 6:20 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 6:43 AM

Map: I-17 and Loop 101

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PHOENIX -- The Department of Public Safety is investigating the discovery of a body at Interstate 17 and Loop 101 in Phoenix early Tuesday morning, but they do not believe foul play was involved.

DPS officers believe a man thought to be in his 50s or 60s jumped to his death.

There was some initial thought that the body might have been connected to an earlier fatal motorcycle wreck in the same area, but that turned out not to be the case.

People driving at the I-17/Loop 101 interchange spotted the body at about 4 a.m. and called 911.

As officers looked around, they spotted a black car stopped on the top ramp from eastbound Loop 101 to the northbound lanes of I-17. The car's engine was running and both the lights and the radio were on. When a DPS officer looked over the ledge, he saw the man's body lying in the HOV lane.

Believing the man committed suicide, investigators are not searching for a suspect in the case.

“You see a lot of things in DPS in terms of fatal collisions -- why they happened, when they happened, where they happened. And you see a lot of strange incidents like this," DPS spokesman Bart Graves said. "There's just no explanation for it."

This was not the only deadly incident at I-17 and Loop 101 Tuesday morning.

At about midnight -- four hours before the unidentified man's body was found --  a motorcyclist was killed when he rode over the embankment in that same area. Investigators believe he was speeding while transitioning from northbound I-17 to eastbound Loop 101.

Officers say the rider, later identified as Ricardo Phillips, 40, of Buckeye, went over the retaining wall and fell several hundred feet. His body was found in the rocks below the ramp. He was wearing helmet.

While investigators believe speed was the main factor in Phillips' death, they do not yet know if impairment might have played a part, as well.

DPS determined that the two deadly incidents are not related.

The freeway was closed for several hours early Tuesday morning, but reopened at about 6:15 a.m., just in time for the morning rush hour.

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