John Genovese and Brittany Smith
June 24th 5:30pm
The Arizona Republic-12 News Breaking News Team
Phoenix, AZ – Four women, were killed and one severely injured Friday afternoon, June 24, when they were involved in a truck accident on a Interstate Highway 17.
The tragic collision between the passenger car and a Wal-Mart semi trailer truck occurred just west of the city of Phoenix on Interstate Highway 17 near the juncture with Buckeye Road.
Early Friday afternoon 33 year old Jason Hall of Las Vegas, Nevada was driving a 2003 International semi trailer truck west on Interstate Highway 17 through Maricopa County, AZ. The tractor trailer truck belonged to the Wal-Mart Corporation and was carry a cargo of general store merchandise and dry food products. The destination of the semi truck is not known.
The deadly truck accident occurred at about 1:00 p.m. Friday afternoon as the westbound semi trailer traveled on Interstate Highway 17 at the same time a sedan with five occupants was traveling eastbound on the highway.
According to police, 26 year old Georgia Steele was driving a red 1996 Dodge Neon east on Interstate Highway 17. There were four passengers in the car, 24 year old Callie R Addy, 19 year olds Rachel Raquel, Bree and Jade Brown. All four were from Tempe, AZ.
As the two vehicles approached each other from opposite directions on the highway Jason Hall suddenly lost control of the semi trailer for unknown reasons near the juncture with Buckeye Road . The semi trailer crossed over the center dividing line and directly into the path of the eastbound passenger car. The sedan did not have time or space to swerve out of the way and collided head-on with the truck. The force of the truck accident crushed the smaller vehicle.
After hitting the Dodge Neon the Wal-Mart 18 wheeler went off the highway and partially up an embankment, with the smaller sedan stuck to the undercarriage of the truck. The impact of the truck accident broke open the trailer, allowing some of the cargo to spill onto the roadway. At least one gas tank was damaged and diesel fuel leaked out. The fuel ignited and the flames quickly engulfed the cab of the semi trailer.
Arizona Highway Patrol troopers and local emergency personnel rushed to the site of the fiery crash. Paramedics reached the young people in the car but found that all four had suffered fatal injuries in the truck accident. According to officials it appears that they died immediately upon impact. The driver of the sedan was taken to Phoenix Baptist Hospital where she is in critical condition.
The truck driver was able to escape the semi before it caught on fire and was not injured in the truck accident.
Troopers shut down a section of AZ Highway 17 around the crash site while the emergency teams worked. Firefighters eventually extinguished the flames on the semi cab and were able to keep it from spreading to the trailer section and the car. However the semi’s cab was destroyed in the truck accident fire.
Highway crews were brought to the site of the deadly collision and worked to remove the lost cargo and other debris off the road. Tow trucks were brought to the site of the truck accident to remove the wreckage of the passenger car and the burnt shell of the semi’s cab.
The area of AZ Highway 17 would remain closed for more than five hours after the truck accident, extending into early Friday evening.
Officials are still reconstructing the truck accident and trying to determine the exact cause. Although they believe the collision occurred when the semi truck crossed into the opposite lane of traffic they have not released information on why the driver lost control. Drugs and alcohol are not considered factors in the crash.
The truck driver is not expected to be charged in the collision. The truck accident remains under investigation.
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