A Casa Grande man was killed in a two-vehicle crash on I-10 Tuesday afternoon.
The bus, carrying 16 people, including the driver, is owned by TBC Connecion.
The victim, who was driving a pickup truck, was headed the wrong way, DPS said. His vehicle caught fire upon impact.
CASA GRANDE, AZ (CBS5) -
One person was killed and at least nine others were injured in a charter bus crash on Interstate 10 near Casa Grande, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.
Tuesday afternoon's three-vehicle collision involved the bus, a pickup truck and a Fry's Food semi-trailer.
The driver of the pickup truck, 78-year-old Francis Wilkens Gibson Jr., of Casa Grande, died after his vehicle caught fire, DPS said.
Gibson was traveling the wrong way on I-10 near the Interstate 8 transition, DPS said. He was heading eastbound in the westbound lanes and collided head-on with the bus, DPS authorities said.
"(The pickup) was reported as traveling east bound in the west bound
lanes. We received at least two reports. We had officers en route to intercept but unfortunately they
were not able to intercept before a collision resulted," said DPS Captain Brian Preston.
There were 16 people on board the bus, including the driver, at the time of the crash that happened just past 2:30 p.m., ADOT authorities said. The bus driver escaped injury, but nine of the passengers were taken to area hospitals.
"They were driving and there was an oncoming vehicle. The
driver said, 'Hang on, because there is nothing we can do.' And they were hit," said one passenger through a translator.
The bus is owned by TBC Connecion. TBC is a U.S. bus company registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation. It is believed the passengers were traveling from Mexico to Phoenix at the time of the accident, officers said.
News helicopter footage shows one of the vehicles involved - a pickup truck - apparently caught fire and spun around.
The semi-trailer that was also westbound tried to stop at the time of the collision but ended up striking the side of the bus as the truck jack-knifed, DPS said. The driver of the semi was not injured.
DPS said it received two 911 calls about a wrong-way driver just two minutes before the crash. It is unknown where Gibson entered the freeway.
"Our hearts go out to the families in this tragic accident," Fry's Food spokeswoman Joellen Lynn said.
All westbound lanes re-opened hours later at mile post 197, about one mile west of Jimmie Kerr Boulevard.
The accident remains under investigation.
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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725 S. Floyd Street
Louisville, KY 40203