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» »Unlabelled » Dust storm leads to pileup, I-10 closure south of Valley

PICACHO, AZ - A blinding dust storm has caused three different pileups along Interstate 10 south of the Valley, killing one man and injuring more than 15 other people.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety says 24 vehicles were involved in the three crashes along Interstate 10 near Picacho, about midway between Phoenix and Tucson.

Visibility during the storm was down to zero as thick blowing dust blanketed the area.

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"It's pretty chaotic out there," said state Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves.

The first two crashes reportedly occurred just after noon near Picacho, and involved 16 vehicles, including tractor trailers.

According to Graves, two people involved in those collisions are "extremely critical" but the heavy dust prevented authorities from using helicopters to get them to a hospital.

Fire officials said crews were working to remove the man who was killed from his vehicle and get four critical patients to a Tucson hospital. More than 10 others had less serious injuries.

One of the early afternoon crashes occurred in the eastbound lanes of the interstate and the other in the westbound lanes as a dust storm suddenly moved in.

Air15 video showed the sprawling accident scene with the roadway blocked by more than two dozen commercial and passenger vehicles involved in the pileup.

Photos from an ABC15 crew on scene show a vehicle flipped over and the front of a semi truck taken out.

Traffic was backed up at least five miles, and all traffic was being diverted elsewhere while the interstate was closed.

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The third pileup occurred almost two hours later just north of Tucson and involved eight vehicles. There were no fatalities but Graves said two people are in extremely critical condition.

Graves said there is no estimated time for the roadway to be reopened.

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