The new stretch of Beeline Highway claimed its first traffic fatality, and its first head-on collision, Tuesday evening.
The victim, Donald Stanley of Mesa, was driving northbound in a rented Budget moving truck when he attempted to pass a semi-truck near milemarker 218, according to Sgt. Dennis Isaacson of the Arizona Department of Public Safety in Fountain Hills.
Almost immediately upon entering the no-passing zone, Stanley "met a southbound semi," Isaacson said. "He was pronounced dead at the scene."
DPS investigators estimate that Stanley was in his mid-30s.
The unidentified driver of the semi involved in the accident was slightly injured and taken to a Valley hospital, where he was treated and released, the DPS officer said.
The collision, which occurred at about 5 p.m., held up both southbound and northbound traffic for about three-and-a-half hours. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that the accident took place on the new 7-mile Sunflower bypass section of the Beeline, Isaacson said.
"Because the two southbound lanes aren't yet open, all traffic is using the two northbound lanes. So a single wreck can bring a lot of cars to a stop for a good long time."