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Updated Oct 30, 2013 - 8:22 am

DPS: Three killed in dust storm crash on Interstate 10

PHOENIX -- Three people were killed Tuesday after a dust storm caused multiple crashes on Interstate 10 near Picacho Peak, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.

The freeway was closed in both directions for several hours before reopening by about 10:30 p.m.

One of the people killed was 76-year-old Gordon Lee Smith of Mead, Wash. His wife, who was not identified, was injured in the crash and hospitalized.

The other two fatalities have not been identified.

DPS Officer Carrick Cook said the crashes were first reported around noon, when a severe thunderstorm was moving through the area. The storm kicked up a lot of dust and cut visibility to near zero.

Cook said that at least 19 vehicles were involved in the crashes.

"Ten commercial vehicles and they take up an area about 50 feet," said DPS Officer Raul Garcia. "They're almost crowded together in an oval shape. A lot of the sedans that were involved in this collision are actually underneath those commercial vehicles and tankers."

Garcia said the crash generated a heavy emergency response.

"We probably have 30 emergency vehicles on scene that responded to this collision," he said, adding that about 100 people who working to investigate and clear the scene.

More than a dozen people were injured in the crashes.

Interstate 10 was originally closed in both directions north of Picacho Peak as a result of the crashes. Traffic was getting around the crash on frontage roads.

Cook said the crashes serve as a grim reminder for drivers to pull completely off the road during dust storms and extinguish their lights to avoid being hit.

About the Author

Martha is the traffic controller in the KTAR newsroom. Her full time role is that of Assignment and Breaking News Editor of KTAR News. She oversees daily Breaking News planning and over-the air execution, and puts together the elements that make it happen. She gathers and distributes daily news assignments to reporters and editors. She also reports on a daily basis, anchors news afternoons 1-2p and fills in as anchor occasionally during other time slots. She began working at KTAR in the winter of 2012 as Desk Editor and was promoted to oversee Assignments and Breaking News in 2014. During that time, she received two awards as a journalist. The first was the 2013 APTRA Awards, where she took home 2nd place for Best Serious Future in the "Recycled Orchestra." The second was a 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for her collaboration in KTAR's Voice for a Better Arizona Series: Immigration - seeking solutions. In her piece, Martha profiled two Arizona sisters looking for the DREAM. Martha was born in Mazatlan, Mexico. She moved to Arizona in 1996 with her parents and younger sister and has lived here since. She attended Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University in Tempe. Prior to working at KTAR news she worked in news and production at Univision Arizona in Phoenix. She also supervised the marketing, catering and public relations department at Hotel Araiza, 5-star hotel in Mexicali, Mexico. She has also been a personal trainer and aerobics instructor. When she isn't in the newsroom or behind the microphone Martha is an avid gym-goer and marathoner. She trains for two races a year and enjoys taking group exercise classes, such as kickboxing, indoor cycling and weight lifting. Martha is married and lives in Surprise, AZ with 2 dogs, Tasha and Elsa, and a cat, Sammy.


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