Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from July 30 – Aug. 1

Aug 1, 2021, 6:00 PM
(Pixabay photo)...
(Pixabay photo)
(Pixabay photo)

PHOENIX — Traffic deaths in Arizona reached a 12-year high in 2020, Arizona State University is now “strongly recommending” that everybody wears face masks inside campus buildings and Ken Bennett said he will continue in his role of Arizona Senate liaison for the Republican-ordered Maricopa County election audit following a week of uncertainty.

Here are some of the biggest stories that headlined the Arizona news cycle over the weekend.

Arizona sees 12-year high in traffic deaths despite decline in 2020 crashes

Traffic deaths in Arizona reached a 12-year high in 2020, despite reductions in traffic volume due to the pandemic, a recent report showed.

At least 1,057 people were killed in traffic collisions, up from 980 in 2019, while the state saw drivers travel an estimated nearly five billion fewer miles in 2020 — a 7% decrease from the previous year, according to the Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report published on Thursday.

Categories that track deaths showed an increase, including deaths from speed-related and lane-departure crashes, as well as deaths from people not wearing seatbelts.

At the same time, the total number of traffic crashes came in under 100,000 for the first time since 1993.

ASU ‘strongly recommending’ face masks as fall semester approaches

With a new semester fast approaching, Arizona State University said Friday it is now “strongly recommending” that everybody wears face masks inside campus buildings.

Public universities and community colleges can’t require face coverings or COVID-19 vaccines under an executive order issued by Gov. Doug Ducey on June 15.

Ducey issued the executive order to block ASU from implementing a planned indoor and outdoor face mask requirement. The public college ban on mask and vaccine mandates was later passed into law as part of the state budget and will take effect Sept. 29.

ASU does, however, require masks in certain health care centers and on campus shuttles.

Ken Bennett granted audit access, will remain Arizona Senate liaison

Following a week of uncertainty after his access was restricted, Ken Bennett said he will continue in his role of Arizona Senate liaison for the Republican-ordered Maricopa County election audit as it moves into the reporting phase.

State Senate President Karen Fann and Bennett announced a deal Friday to keep Bennett involved after he threatened to abandon the project over what he said was a lack of transparency from Cyber Ninjas, the audit’s lead contractor. The dispute arose as the hands-on portion of the review was coming to a close.

Friday’s announcement came a week after Bennett was barred from the Arizona State Fairgrounds building where the last hands-on work was completed.

Bennett accused Cyber Ninjas of withholding information from him but said he was still open to working with Doug Logan’s company and the other contractors during the documentation process, but only if they agreed to share all the information he would need to properly vet the final report.

MCSO arrests suspect who exchanged gunfire with a deputy in West Valley

A man who fired at a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputy in a small West Valley town earlier this month has been arrested, authorities said Friday.

The deputy responded to a domestic violence call in Youngtown on July 10 and upon arrival, identified two suspects in an apartment believed to have been described in the call, MCSO said in a press release.

As the deputy began giving commands to one suspect, another, identified as James Crespo III, exited the apartment from behind the deputy and fired multiple gunshots toward him, according to the release.

Rescue teams find female hiker dead on the side of Camelback Mountain

A reported missing hiker was found dead on the side of Camelback Mountain on Friday, authorities said.

Officers responded to a call from a hiker around 1 p.m. who said his female companion never made it back to the Camelback Mountain parking lot.

Police said the pair was hiking the mountain when the woman, who was visiting from out of town, became overheated halfway up.

She decided to return to the parking lot while her companion continued to the top of the mountain. When he returned to the vehicle, she was no where to be found, authorities said.

The missing hiker, who has not been identified, was found around 4:40 p.m. off the Echo Canyon Trail, next to a home, authorities said.

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Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from July 30 – Aug. 1