Wrong-way drunk driver caused crash left 3 GCU students dead near New River, police say

Vincent Ian Acosta, 25, is facing multiple charges including 3 counts of second-degree murder.
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 11:59 AM MST|Updated: Oct. 31, 2022 at 12:10 PM MST
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NEW RIVER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A wrong-way driver accused of killing three Grand Canyon University students is now behind bars after being hospitalized for weeks. Arizona Department of Public Safety officials say Vincent Ian Acosta, 25, of Laveen, was booked into the Maricopa County jail on Friday and is facing murder charges after driving drunk, causing the deadly crash.

Court documents say on Oct. 10, just before 4 a.m., Acosta was driving south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 17 near Table Mesa Road on the north end of the Valley. Police say 11 people called 911, saying they had to swerve out of the way to avoid being hit by Acosta. He then crashed into a commercial vehicle and two cars, including one carrying three GCU students. Two students died at the scene, while a third died at a hospital. They were later identified as:

  • Abriauna Hoffman, 18, from Clarkston, WA
  • Magdalyn (Maggie) Ogden, 18, from Clarkston, WA
  • Hunter Balberdi, 19, from Wailuku, HI

The two other drivers were taken to the hospital. Emergency responders arrived at the scene and smelled alcohol coming from Acosta while taking him to the hospital, investigators said. Court documents say Acosta’s BAC came in at 0.129, which is over the legal limit.

Acosta was booked on three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and 11 counts of endangerment.