3 killed in Ariz. crash
A total of six motorcyclists were injured
By Mark Carlson
The Associated Press
PHOENIX, Ariz. — A dump truck plowed into a group of eight motorcycles stopped at a red light in Phoenix, killing three riders, injuring six others and scattering flaming wreckage across the intersection.
The eight motorcycles, carrying at least nine people, had pulled up behind a pickup and a small SUV at the light Thursday when the truck driver rammed them from behind, said Phoenix police spokesman Detective James Holmes. The truck ran over the motorcyclists and continued into the SUV.
"It's a horrific scene," Phoenix Fire Deputy Chief Frank Salomon told The Associated Press.
Some of the motorcycles burst into flames under the dump truck, while others ended up scattered behind the truck. Television images of the crash site showed a horrifying collection of mangled chrome Harley-Davidson bikes and scattered personal belongings, including pairs of riders' boots laying in the roadway.
Lynn McDowell, an employee at a nearby drug store, told The Arizona Republic that she ran to the scene with others from her job to help. "There were bodies everywhere," McDowell said.
The most seriously injured was off-duty Phoenix Fire Capt. Ernie Lizarraga, a 22-year department veteran who was hospitalized in very critical condition Thursday evening, authorities said.
Some of the injured were airlifted to St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, Salomon said.
There was no sign the 50-year-old truck driver was impaired, authorities said. The driver was not injured and was questioned by police. Those in the pickup and SUV also were not hurt.
The crash occurred at about 1 p.m. at the north Phoenix intersection of 27th Avenue and the Carefree Highway. Holmes said at least one of the victims was a woman, but most were men.
Jarrod Cook, a worker at the nearby Ketzal Mexican Grill, said he saw several motorcycles wedged underneath the garbage truck, which caught fire.
"The first thing we saw was a big puff of smoke when the truck lit on fire," he said.
Cook said he walked over and witnessed a chaotic scene with some of the injured lying on the ground.
Dozens of police and rescue personnel responded to the crash.
Phoenix Fire Department spokesman Jonathan Jacobs told KNXV-TV that witnesses reported seeing several of the motorcycle riders dragged 50 to 75 yards after impact. The three bikers killed were trapped under the truck, Jacobs said.
The Carefree Highway was closed for several hours as police investigate the crash.
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