A 22-year-old man driving southbound in the northbound lanes of the I-17 crashed into sisters, 19 and 20, who were driving northbound on April 14. All three were killed in the wreck, said Raul Garica, DPS spokesman.
Northbound Interstate 17 was closed for several hours between Greenway and Bell roads Friday morning following a wrong-way crash that left three people dead, according to public safety officials. The freeway was re-opened at about 8 a.m.
The two-vehicle crash occurred just after 2 a.m. near Greenway Road, according to Phoenix Fire Capt. Reda Bigler. The driver in one vehicle and another driver and their passenger in the second vehicle all were pronounced dead at the scene, she said.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Raul Garcia said the wrong-way vehicle was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes. Officials have not yet released the names of those who died.
“They are young,” Garcia said, “They are between the ages of 19 and 22.”
Garcia said DPS received two phone calls of the wrong-way incident with the first call reporting the 22-year-old male wrong way driver was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes of the I-17, “right around Happy Valley Road and Pinnacle Peak Road.” He also said that it was unclear if that is where the 22-year-old entered the highway going the wrong way or not.
Garcia said another caller reported the deadly crash to 911 approximately five miles further south, approaching Greenway Road.
Two women, ages 19 and 20, who are believed to be sisters, were driving a white Pontiac with a Colorado license plate and were struck by the 22-year-old wrong-way driver in a silver Chrysler Sebring with a North Carolina license plate “going highway speeds,” Garcia said.
Garcia said Department of Public Safety investigators are working closely with state troopers from Colorado and North Carolina to notify family.
“This is difficult for everyone,” Garcia said, “They’re young.”
The crash is still under investigation but Garcia said the “majority if not all the wrong-way accidents that we investigate involve injury or death are a direct result to impaired driving.”
Quoting a previous statement from DPS Director Col. Frank Milstead regarding young drivers, Garcia said, “this is a society problem … We need you to keep from driving a vehicle if you are impaired.” He urges people, especially young adults, to take the keys away from people who insist on driving impaired, and if that’s not possible then call the authorities to do it.
“See something, Say something,” he said. “Don’t assume that someone else is going to handle it or take the time to call 911.”
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