Thursday, February 7, 2008

I-10 accidents clog crossroads

I-10 accidents clog crossroads

By JB Miller

Interstate traffic was forced to take the scenic route through Sonoita on Friday. As the result of two accidents on Interstate-10 early Friday morning, the Sonoita crossroads became the main thruway for an unprecedented amount of traffic that was diverted around 5:40 a.m.

The rerouting occurred after a nine-vehicle collision that occurred on I-10 eastbound at the Davidson Canyon Bridge, milepost 284.4. The location is 20 miles east of Tucson and three miles east of the Sonoita Highway Interchange.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, a 2003 Ford pickup was pulling a trailer loaded with a piece of construction equipment known as a "Bobcat." A tire failed on the trailer and the driver lost control of the vehicle. The trailer overturned in the road dumping the Bobcat onto the pavement, blocking the high-speed lane.

The pile-up began when two vehicles struck the Bobcat. There were 11 people in the nine vehicles. Four sustained minor injuries.

Shortly after 7 a.m., traffic was stopped on the interstate when the driver of a Volvo tractor-trailer, who was unaware of the traffic backed up on the interstate, hit a Freightliner tractor-trailer. The trailer on the Freightliner was torn open with extensive damage to the Volvo's cab and the driver was trapped in the vehicle.

Medical personnel, near the first collision. were on the scene within minutes. The driver of the Volvo was trapped for three hours while the fire department and medics tried to rescue him. The driver died at the scene after medics got him out of the vehicle.

Eastbound I-10 was closed until noon due to the collisions and the resulting investigations. Traffic was routed south on SR 83 to Sonoita, then east on SR 82, then north on SR 90 and back to I-10. This detour added one hour or more of travel to Benson, on I-10.

"It caused a massive detour in their lives," said Donna Ratliff, manager of the Sonoita Mercantile Gas Station who was overwhelmed with customers. "I was here by myself and got bombarded."

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