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4 killed, 9 hurt in fiery crash on eastbound Loop 202

(Twitter Photo/ADOT)

PHOENIX – Four people were killed and nine more were injured in a fiery multivehicle collision on a Valley freeway late Wednesday.

Loop 202 Red Mountain near State Route 143 was shut down in both directions for hours after a semi-truck hauling milk crashed into seven passenger vehicles in the eastbound lanes around 10 p.m., according to first responders.

Westbound lanes were reopened Thursday around 5 a.m., but eastbound lanes were closed until shortly before 9 a.m.

A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety said Thursday the truck didn’t slow down enough to allow for traffic congestion on the roadway between 52nd and Van Buren streets.

After hitting the vehicles, the tank separated and crossed over the median barrier into westbound lanes, where it came to a stop on its side. The truck then caught fire.

Capt. Scott Douglas of the Phoenix Fire Department said the four dead were pronounced at the scene around 52nd Street. Six people were taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Three others, including a 6-year-old girl, were in stable condition.

Federal safety officials are going to investigate the crash, with the National Transportation Safety Board saying it would send nine investigators to conduct a safety probe into the crash in cooperation with the Arizona public safety department.

Among the issues that will be looked at is whether the crash could have been prevented if the tanker was equipped with electronic safety devices.

At present, there are no federal requirements that semis have forward-collision warning or automatic emergency braking.

Authorities ruled out the possibility that the trucker, who was not identified, was impaired.

Investigators generally stay on the scene for five to 10 days, then publish a preliminary report 30 to 90 days after finishing the fieldwork.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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