California Residents Die In Crash

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Two California residents died Saturday when their motorcycle collided with a pickup on Highway 87 at the Highway 188 junction.

The wreck was one of two vehicle accidents that closed sections of Highway 87 for hours over the weekend.

The second wreck, on Sunday, tied up southbound traffic for several hours near Mt. Ord after a vehicle fire spread to the hillside. Two Payson firefighters fought the blaze alone for more than an hour before additional resources arrived.

The fatal wreck occurred about 2:25 p.m. on Saturday.

Larry Wayne Giltner, 62, of Canoga Park, Calif., was heading west on Highway 188 on a blue 2007 Honda motorcycle when he went through a stop sign at the Highway 87 junction, said Bart Graves, media relations coordinator with the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

A red 2011 Dodge pickup heading northbound struck the motorcycle, killing Giltner and his passenger, Sherri Lynn Hoffman, 58, of Reseda, Calif.

The driver of the pickup, Douglas Jacobs, 50, of Scottsdale, and passenger Daniel Jacobs, Douglas’ twin brother, had minor injuries and were later treated and released from a local hospital.

Northbound lanes of travel were closed until 5 p.m., Graves said.

No criminal charges were filed.

On Sunday, the southbound lanes snarled up after a vehicle fire near Mt. Ord closed travel for several hours.

The driver of a van reportedly lost control and the vehicle rolled down an embankment near milepost 222, striking a water main, Graves said.

“When the vehicle came to a rest, the driver got himself out of the van before it caught fire,” he said.

The driver and a passenger were flown to a Valley hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The van, meanwhile, set the hillside on fire and miles from any fire department, it took some time for firefighters to arrive.

“It takes an excruciatingly long time,” said Fire Chief Marty deMasi.

Two Payson firefighters arrived first, doing what they could to stop the spread of the blaze. It took more than an hour for the next fire team to arrive.

Being the off-season for the Forest Service, no firefighters are on duty during the weekend, so it took some time to track down a team, deMasi said.

The fire was eventually contained to four acres.

As firefighters worked, southbound motorists were forced to wait. A line of cars as long as 15 miles snaked down the highway, said Michael Armstrong, who found himself stuck in the line of vehicles for more than an hour and a half.

Armstrong said people did what they could to entertain themselves, including walking their dogs down the roadway.

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