6 killed in 25-vehicle pileup at N. Mexico-Arizona line

Associated Press

Lordsburg, N.M. — Authorities in New Mexico say six people are dead after a 25-vehicle pileup on I-10 caused by sudden blowing dust in New Mexico near the Arizona state line.

Those killed Monday include a 9-month-old girl and her parents from Phoenix, two people from El Paso, Texas, and a California woman.

The stretch of interstate in Lordsburg, New Mexico, was closed for several hours following crash. The closure extended through Willcox, Arizona, where local authorities helped manage traffic that was diverted through a small road. The closure ended Tuesday.

State police say sudden high winds caused limited visibility from blowing dust, causing 18 commercial trucks and seven passenger cars to crash on the westbound lanes of I-10.

The interstate at Lordsburg has seen several closures this year because of blowing dust and low visibility. The dust comes from vacant desert land in the largely rural area.

“It’s a topographical area in which the winds come through where there’s nothing that can be done to prevent it,” State Police spokesman Carl Christiansen said.

In February, two women were killed when their car got sandwiched between two semi-trucks in a crash caused by a dust storm.

Christiansen said the state has posted signs that span 100 miles, warning drivers about sudden winds, and, in the past, it has aired public service announcements.

He said State Police have responded to numerous crashes in that area in the past few years.

“It’s never easy. It doesn’t get easier each time,” Christiansen said.

Though I-10 has reopened, the vehicle tows are slow because there aren’t enough tow trucks in the area, Christiansen said.

The dead include Jose Manuel Clemente, 77, and Maurella Clemente Munoz, 38, of El Paso, Texas; Jose Elias Caraveo-Serrano, 30, and Susana Caraveo, 29, of Phoenix, along with their 9-month-old girl; and Josefina Silva, 47, of Escondido, California.