Corrections & Clarifications: In a previous version of this story, the DPS incorrectly stated the ages of Keaton Tyler Allison and Kelsey Mae Richardson?. He is 21, and she is 18.
The Department of Public Safety has identified the three people killed Friday in a head-on, wrong-way collision along Interstate 17 early Friday.
The two-vehicle crash occurred just after 2 a.m. near Greenway Road when a silver Chrysler Sebring driven by 21-year-old Keaton Tyler Allison of Colorado Springs, Colo., slammed into a white Pontiac occupied by sisters Karlie Arlene Richardson, 20, and Kelsey Mae Richardson, 18, both of Moorseville, N.C.
Allison had been driving southbound in the northbound lane of the freeway, according to the DPS.
The cars collided at a high rate of speed. It appeared there were no signs of either vehicle attempting to brake to avoid the collision, the DPS reported.
All three were trapped in their vehicles and were pronounced dead at the scene after being extricated by Phoenix fire emergency crews.
“This is difficult for everyone,” said department spokesman Raul Garcia on Friday morning. “They’re young.”
Two calls received
The department received two calls related to the collision. The first call reported Allison’s vehicle was traveling in opposing lanes of traffic in the area of Happy Valley and Pinnacle Peak roads. Garcia said it was unclear if that was where Allison entered the highway traveling the wrong way.
Another caller reported the deadly crash to 911 dispatchers nearly 5 miles farther south, approaching Greenway Road.
The northbound lanes of I-17 were closed for several hours while authorities investigated the incident.
The investigation is still underway; impairment has not been ruled out as a factor. Garcia said the “majority if not all the wrong-way accidents that we investigate that involve injury or death are a direct result of impaired driving.”
The DPS worked with state troopers in North Carolina and Colorado to notify the families of the Richardson sisters and Allison.
It was later revealed Allison and one of the Richardson sisters both attended Grand Canyon University, a school representative announced Friday.
Bob Romantic, a spokesman for GCU, released the following statement to students and staff via email Friday morning:
“It is with great sorrow and heavy hearts that we share the news that three people, including two students from Grand Canyon University, were killed in a wrong-way driver accident last night on Interstate 17. Names have not been released pending notification of families. As a close-knit community of students, faculty and staff, please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers during this tragic time. Pastor Tim Griffin’s office and the entire Student Affairs staff will be available in Building 26 to assist any students who need support or counseling.”
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