A three-car crash on Highway 87 just north of Payson snarled traffic for two hours Thursday around noon, but apparently caused no deaths or life-threatening injuries.
Witnesses said the driver of a truck had reportedly been weaving up Highway 87 all the way from the Valley. After he blasted through the roundabout near Home Depot, the driver nearly ran a car off the road, then smashed into the back of a truck stopped at a highway construction site.
The Department of Public Safety did not return an e-mail seeking details of the crash, including the names and conditions of the drivers. DPS changed its policy to prevent officers in the local field from talking to reporters, saying all information must come through the Phoenix office.
Witnesses at the scene offered a description of the events that left three cars mangled, several people injured and traffic backed up from the construction site north of Payson all the way past Airport Road, before police reopened the highway at about 2 p.m.
One witness said the truck that caused the accident was going “about 70 mph.”
The weaving driver smashed into the back of a truck driven by a Pine woman, forcing her truck to smash into the car in front of her. That car had two young women in the front seat and a two-year-old baby in the back seat, said Josh Stodghill, of Pine, who was driving behind the speeding truck.
Stodghill said the driver of the truck that caused the accident rushed through the roundabout, shifted lanes so abruptly he missed Stodghill’s truck by mere inches, then accelerated down the highway at about 70 mph.
Cassie Frausto, a passenger in Stodghill’s car, said the driver of the truck then smashed into the back of a white pickup truck, which was standing still waiting to follow an ADOT pace car through a section of the highway narrowed to one lane by road work.
The impact forced the white pickup forward into another car and then off the road and down a steep, 20-foot embankment.
Stodghill said he jumped out of his truck and ran down to help the woman in the gully, who turned out to also live in Pine.
Stodghill said the driver was bruised and battered, but not seriously injured. He said the women and child in the other car involved also did not appear to be seriously injured, although several people were taken from the scene in ambulances. Stodghill said he didn’t know what became of the driver of the pickup.
Stodghill said another driver waiting for some two hours in the long line of cars said the truck that caused the accident had passed him on the way up from the Valley, weaving in and out of traffic.