DPS: Distracted semi-truck driver caused fiery crash that killed 5 on I-10 in Chandler

Investigators believe a semi-truck driver wasn't paying attention and started a chain-reaction crash that killed five people on the I-10 in Chandler.
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 6:36 AM MST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2023 at 7:17 AM MST
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CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Five people are dead after a chain-reaction crash involving two semi-trucks and four cars led to a large fire on Interstate 10 in Chandler early Thursday morning, DPS said, and the freeway was partly closed for about 11 hours. Eastbound I-10 partially reopened just before 5 p.m. and fully reopened a short time later.

The victims died in a chain-reaction crash that happened around 6 a.m.
The victims died in a chain-reaction crash that happened around 6 a.m.(Arizona's Family)

It happened on the eastbound side of the I-10 at about 6:15 a.m. south of Chandler Boulevard but just before the Loop 202 Santan Freeway interchange. As traffic was congested because of a crash that happened hours before, DPS says the driver of a semi hauling garbage didn’t slow down and slammed into two passenger cars, pushing them into another semi-truck and two other cars. The two cars that were crushed between the semi-trucks burst into flames, killing five.

DPS says the driver of the at-fault truck suffered minor injuries and troopers are investigating distraction as a possible cause of the crash.

Video from traffic cameras in the area showed flames coming from the cars and trucks. It took firefighters nearly 30 minutes to put the fire out. A semi-truck and the car were destroyed. Nearly a dozen troopers remained on the scene throughout the morning. Speed was also a factor in the chain-reaction crash.

‘Multiple’ fatalities were reported after a semi-truck caught fire on I-10. It was one of three semi-wrecks in the area early Thursday morning.

The crash marked the third wreck involving a semi in less than six hours on I-10. Two separate crashes had shut down the eastbound side of the freeway a few miles away at Queen Creek Road. In the first, a tractor-trailer caught fire near Riggs Road when DPS says another semi-truck driver with a car-hauler crashed into three other semi-trucks. No one was seriously injured in those other crashes, but extensive traffic backups began just in time for the morning commute. DPS troopers say a large amount of diesel was spilled onto the road mixed in with the debris from all four semis. At this time, it appears that this latest crash was a result of those earlier incidents.

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DPS said speed was a factor.
DPS said speed was a factor.(Arizona's Family)