11 people die in Valley traffic crashes over 5-day period

This is the sort of story that runs from time to time. Not front page news, by any stretch — it was buried in the B section. Motorists killing motorists. So much negligence, so little responsibility — maybe a few traffic tickets.

This is juxtaposed over the nationwide media din of the Minneapolis bridge collapse. Indeed, the front page today still is crammed with ever more stories of the aftermath. One of today’s lead stories was that the death toll, currently 5 confirmed and 8 still missing, seems miraculously low. Over 42,000 dead in traffic crashes last year — 0 of which were from bridge collapses.

11 people die in Valley traffic crashes over 5-day period
Authorities warn motorists to be on lookout for changing weather conditions in summer

Jordan LaPier
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 5, 2007 12:00 AM
At least 11 people were killed in traffic crashes in the Valley in five days this week, according to various police reports.

In the most recent fatality, a man was killed in a collision around 5 p.m. Thursday near 46th Avenue and Bethany Home Road in Glendale.

Police found alcohol in the car of the victim, Charles Wagoner, 49, and believe it may have been a factor in the crash, according to Glendale police spokesman Matt Barnett.
Diane D’Angelo, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Transportation, said drivers need to be aware of changing weather conditions during the summer.

“Dust storms occur frequently in Arizona in the summer, and those can reduce visibility to near zero,” she said. There has been no indication that weather was a factor in any of the accidents. Other fatal crashes this week:

• At 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Trina Hirst, 31, of Gilbert, was killed on the Santan Freeway near Cooper Road when she lost control of her car. The vehicle rolled several times, also injuring two children.

• The driver of a silver, late-model sport utility vehicle was ejected and killed in a collision around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday on Interstate 17 near the Deer Valley exit. The DPS has appealed to the public for information about the crash. The victim’s name was not released.

• Jordan Alexander Brown-Behrends, 19, was killed after his motorcycle crashed into a friend’s pickup truck around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday near 19th Avenue and Baseline Road in Phoenix.

• A two-car collision near Seventh Street and Coral Gables Road killed former Arizona Republic columnist Ginger Hutton about 5 p.m. Tuesday. Her husband, Joe Gilmartin, a former Phoenix Gazette sports editor and columnist and Phoenix Suns announcer, suffered minor injuries. Two people in the other vehicle, one a child, were also injured.

• Valerie Hall, 64, was killed when her car collided with another vehicle that failed to stop at a traffic signal at McClintock Drive and Warner Road in Tempe around 9 p.m. Monday.

• A collision apparently caused by a driver running a red light Monday afternoon at Valencia Street and Broadway Road in Mesa killed Christopher Terran, 38, police said.

• A pickup truck crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with another vehicle, killing one of its passengers, near Santa Fe Trail and 127th Drive in Avondale around 8 a.m. Monday. Nicolette Mitchell, 41, was killed when a pickup driven by John Lang, 38, veered into opposing lanes, police said.

• Three people died about 3:30 p.m. last Sunday after a three-vehicle collision on Loop 202 near 44th Street in central Phoenix. Georgina Savala, 23; Alexander Lopez, 17; and Robert Savala, 18, were killed when their car rolled over, ejecting them. Investigators think two vehicles collided when one or both changed lanes, before a third vehicle struck at least one of them, the DPS said.

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