A Scottsdale man is facing manslaughter charges after a multi-vehicle accident last week killed three.
James David Duncan, 49, was reportedly driving drunk on April 16 when he crossed the centerline on State Route 87 near the East Verde Estates turnoff, crashing into a vehicle, which set off a domino effect of additional wrecks.
Duncan had reportedly been drinking in the Pine-Strawberry area.
About 8:30 p.m., Duncan was driving back to Payson in a white Ford F-150 pickup with Georgia Maria Burnside, 54, of Payson, when Duncan crossed over the highway at milepost 259, sideswiping a red Dodge Ram truck and a white Ford Explorer traveling northbound, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, which is investigating the incident.
Another white Ford F-150 truck was traveling southbound on 87 and collided with Duncan’s truck.
“The impact redirected the second white Ford pickup from the southbound traffic lane, left across the northbound traffic lane, and down a hill into the canyon,” according to a DPS spokesperson.
Payson firefighters reportedly found the truck 25 feet down an embankment, crashed into a tree.
The driver of the truck that went into the canyon, Latissia Morris, 38, of the San Tan Valley, was killed along with Morris’ 15-year-old son, who was ejected from the truck and died on scene, according to DPS.
Paramedics took Burnside to Banner Payson Medical Center where she died.
Duncan meanwhile was airlifted to a Valley hospital with serious injuries.
The driver and two passengers in the red Dodge truck as well as the driver and passenger in the Ford Explorer were not injured.
On Tuesday, troopers arrested Duncan on charges of three counts of manslaughter, five counts of endangerment and DUI-related charges. Duncan was booked into the Maricopa County Jail.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety was assisted by the Payson Police Department and the Gila County Sheriff’s Office.
A GoFundMe has been established for the Morris family at https://gofund.me/c75921f1.
To donate to Burnside’s family, visit any Payson school to make a donation. Burnside worked for Payson High School as an attendance secretary until 2018.