Blowing Dust Causes Multiple Crashes On I-10

October 29, 2013

(Photo courtesy of the Arizona Department of Transportation)
Photo of the I-10 crash near Picacho Peak.
(Photo courtesy of Vern H. Gill)
This happened on the eastbound side of the freeway directly adjacent to the massive accident on the westbound side.
(Photo courtesy of Vern H. Gill)
A four wheeler on its side at Picacho Peak Park.

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (AP) — At least three people are dead and several more severely injured after a half dozen tractor trailers piled up on Interstate 10 on Tuesday afternoon.

An intense storm with high winds and swirling dust hit I-10 near Picacho Peak around 12:30 p.m. Westbound I-10 was closed near Picacho Peak south of Casa Grande in southcentral Arizona because of multiple crashes caused by the blowing dust.

One of the three people killed Tuesday has been identified as 77-year-old George Lee Smith of Mead, Wash. Arizona Department of Public Safety officials said Smith's wife is among the injured. Her condition is not immediately available.

DPS Spokesman Bart Graves said motorists traveling at high speeds could not see where they were going.

"This is a chain reaction crash involving several semi-tractor trailer rigs, at least five to six, that collided with a number of passenger cars," explained Graves.

The westbound lanes of I-10 were shut down completely as emergency crews work to clear debris and victims from the scene. An unknown number of people are injured, said Graves.

"At least one of the tractor-trailer rigs, the cab is completely gone. There’s a vehicle meshed into between two of the wrecked 18-wheelers, a passenger vehicle. Several other passenger vehicles a part from the wreckage but rolled over," Graves said.

The westbound highway was closed for several hours. In addition to all westbound lanes being closed, the left two eastbound lanes were also closed. Traffic was backed up at least 10 miles on the interstate.

KJZZ's Peter O'Dowd contributed to this Associated Press report.

Updated 5:42 p.m. on 10/29/2013.