Woman killed after distracted driver plows into traffic jam - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Woman killed after distracted driver plows into traffic jam

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ANTHEM, Ariz. -

A woman is dead after two separate crashes involving seven cars on I-17 near Anthem Way on Saturday.

Five cars were tossed around the I-17 southbound lanes in Anthem after DPS officers say a box truck plowed into cars stopped in a traffic jam.

"Driver tells us he reaches down to look for his water bottle as the truck is still hurling down highway at about 60 mph, he locates the bottle, then looks up and realizes traffic is stopped in front of him, he cannot stop in time," said DPS spokesperson Bart Graves.

The truck crushed an Impala, killing a 56-year-old woman.

In another car, an elderly woman driving a Volkswagen was critically injured and rushed to the hospital.

The truck driver survived.

"The other three cars: minor injuries. They didn't feel the brunt of the crash, just those two," said Graves.

Traffic was stopped when the accident happened, but officials say it didn't need to be. Drivers were slowing down and stopping to look at a wreck from earlier in the day.

"In the northbound lanes of I-17, a little south of this location, we have a vehicle where the driver loses control after the rear tire separates, the vehicle rolls into the median several times," said Graves.

No one in the first crash suffered life threatening injuries, but for the next hour drivers stopped to watch as crews cleaned up the wreck on the northbound lane.  

Police are now blaming distraction from those drivers and the truck driver for the deadly scene Saturday.

"Driving should be the number one thing you pay attention to. When you are on the roads, that should be your number one focus and too often it isn't and when it isn't, this is what happens," said Graves.

Police do not suspect the driver was impaired, but they haven't run him through any DUI tests.

The driver is facing a citation for failure to control the vehicle. He will have to appear before a judge.

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