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Burns & Gambo

Three killed in massive Interstate 10 pileup identified

PHOENIX -- Three people who were killed in a large pileup on Interstate 10 Tuesday have been identified, the Arizona Department of Transportation said in a press release.

One of the people killed was 76-year-old Gordon Lee Smith of Mead, Wash. His wife, who was not identified, was injured in the crash and hospitalized.

The other people who were killed were David D. Bechtel, 51, of Milton, Iowa and Lenny Lubers, 46, of Phoenix.

A dozen others were injured in the crash.

DPS Officer Carrick Cook said the crash, along with a smaller accident, were first reported around noon, when a severe thunderstorm was moving through the area. The storm kicked up a lot of dust and cut visibility to near zero.

DPS said 21 vehicles were involved in the crashes.

"Ten commercial vehicles and they take up an area about 50 feet," said DPS Officer Raul Garcia. "They're almost crowded together in an oval shape. A lot of the sedans that were involved in this collision are actually underneath those commercial vehicles and tankers."

Interstate 10 was originally closed in both directions north of Picacho Peak as a result of the crashes. Traffic was getting around the crash on frontage roads.

KTAR's Martha Maurer contributed to this report.

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