Interstate wreck claimed two from Valley
CORDES JUNCTION – Two Valley residents died and five suffered injuries in the early Saturday morning, five-vehicle accident that closed southbound Interstate 17 for 12 hours.
Richard Felix, 46, of Scottsdale and Nicholas Stratton, 19 of Phoenix died at the scene of the accident, which occurred at about 2:30 a.m., about four miles south of Cordes Junction. A 30-year-old Phoenix woman suffered broken ribs and punctured lungs when she jumped over a guardrail in order to avoid the accident. A 40-year-old Phoenix man also jumped over the rail, but he suffered only minor injuries and didn't require hospital treatment.
According to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), the incident began when a vehicle caught fire near mile marker 258. Drivers of three vehicles stopped to help but remained in a traffic lane.
Shortly thereafter, while trying to avoid the vehicles in the roadway, the driver of a tractor-trailer hit one of the stopped vehicles, causing a chain reaction.
The 54-year-old truck driver, from Albuquerque, suffered contusions and lacerations and a 53-year-old Mesa woman had multiple lacerations.
Interstate 17 southbound was closed until officers finished their investigation at about 1:45 p.m.