A group of eight motorcycles stopped at a red light in north Phoenix were mowed down from behind by a dump truck early Thursday afternoon, killing three riders and injuring six others, at least one critically, authorities said.
The most seriously injured was an off-duty Phoenix Fire Department captain who was in very critical condition Thursday evening, said Phoenix police spokesman Detective James Holmes.
The motorcyclists were stopped behind a pickup and a small SUV at the red light when the truck driver rammed them from behind, he said. The truck ran over the motorcyclists and continued into the small SUV in front of them, Holmes said.
There was no sign the truck driver was impaired.
Some of the motorcycles burst into flames under the dump truck, while others ended up scattered behind the truck. Television images of the crash site showed a horrifying collection of mangled chrome Harley-Davidson bikes and scattered personal belongings, including pairs of riders' boots laying in the roadway.
"It's a horrific scene," Phoenix Fire Deputy Chief Frank Salomon told The Associated Press.
Some of the injured were airlifted to St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, Salomon said.
'Big puff of smoke'
The crash occurred about 1 p.m. at the intersection of 27th Avenue and the Carefree Highway. Holmes said at least one of the victims was a woman, but most were men.
Jarrod Cook, a worker at the nearby Ketzal Mexican Grill, said he saw several motorcycles wedged underneath the garbage truck, which caught fire.
"The first thing we saw was a big puff of smoke when the truck lit on fire," he said.
Cook said he walked over and witnessed a chaotic scene with some of the injured lying on the ground.
Dozens of police and rescue personnel responded to the crash.
Phoenix Fire Department spokesman Jonathan Jacobs told KNXV-TV that witnesses reported seeing several of the motorcycle riders dragged 50 to 75 yards after impact. The three bikers killed were trapped under the truck, Jacobs said.
The 50-year-old driver of the truck was not injured and was being questioned by police. Those in the pickup and SUV also were not hurt.
The Carefree Highway was expected to be closed for several hours as police investigate the crash.