Unbelievably, there was only one fatality in a series of large-vehicle wrecks on Interstate 10 yesterday afternoon, and the deceased has been identified 66-year-old William Tatsch of Austin, Texas.
In total, there were three separate wrecks -- involving nearly 30 vehicles -- caused by a dust storm that hit the highway near Picachu Peak.
The first occurred about 12:15 p.m. and involved 16 vehicles, both commercial and passenger.
According to the Department of Public Safety, a massive dust storm rolled through the area cutting visibility to near zero.
The 12:15 p.m. wreck is the one that killed Tatsch, and injured several others, including his wife, who was driving the couple's Honda Sedan at the time.
About 90 minutes later, at 1:44 p.m., another wreck, also caused by dust, occurred. The second wreck happened on eastbound I-10 near McCartney Road (near Casa Grande). Eight vehicles were involved in the second wreck and several people were hurt, although none with life-threatening injuries.
More than two hours after the second wreck, at 3:49 p.m., sections of the highway hit by the dust storm were still open -- and there was yet another wreck, this one involving two tractor-trailer rigs and a small passenger car. Two people in the passenger vehicle were seriously injured. According to the DPS, the "lingering dust storm in the area also played a factor in this crash."
DPS officials say it's important to note that "first responders including DPS officers had to contend with blowing dust and low visibility for hours during the rescue operation. The weather system that brought this dust storm literally parked itself over Interstate10 for hours."