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4 family members killed in fatal semi-truck and car crash on I-17 near Flagstaff

Arizona DPS says the collision occurred Sunday afternoon on southbound Interstate 17. Officials say impairment was not found to be a factor in the crash.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Arizona DPS is investigating a fatal crash between a semi-truck and a car that erupted into flames on Interstate 17 near Flagstaff on Sunday, leaving four people dead. New information from DPS says that impairment didn't play a part in the crash.

The driver of the semi-truck told DPS Troopers that his breaks had failed leading to the crash, according to a DPS report.

Officials say the crash happened southbound on I-17 near milepost 298 just south of State Route 179 at roughly 2:18 in the afternoon.

The semi trailer, which was loaded with glass, failed to stop at a stop sign near the I-17 exit and collided with a passenger car traveling north on SR 179.

Both vehicles were pushed off the roadway down a nearby embankment where the semi landed on top of the car. Officials say that both vehicles were quickly engulfed in flames.

Although the driver of the semi managed to escape his vehicle uninjured, DPS said that the four occupants in the car were pronounced dead on the scene.

Authorities have identified the four deceased individuals as a family from Tempe.

Their names are:

  • Athish Nagarajan, 24,
  • Dhinesh Nagarajan 23, 
  • Gnanappan Nagarajan, 53 
  • Vijaya Lakshmi-Gopal, 45  

Once again, officials say that impairment was not a factor in the wreck.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned to 12News for updates.

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Deaths on Arizona roads

Data from the Arizona Department of Transportation shows that roadway fatalities have been gradually rising in Arizona over the last decade: 

  • 2011: 825 deaths  

  • 2012: 821 deaths 

  • 2013: 844 deaths 

  • 2014: 774 deaths 

  • 2015: 895 deaths 

  • 2016: 952 deaths 

  • 2017: 1,000 deaths 

  • 2018: 1,010 deaths 

  • 2019: 982 deaths 

  • 2020: 1,057 deaths 

ADOT offers driving tips on its website to help keep people safe on the road. 

"There’s always room for improvement when it comes to road safety," the department said on its website. 

ADOT's suggestions include: 

  • Don’t speed or drive aggressively 

  • Never drive while under the influence of substances 

  • Avoid distractions while driving 

  • Wear your seatbelt and make sure all passengers are doing the same 

  • When an emergency vehicle is on the side of the road, move over 

  • Stay extra aware in work zones 

  • Be prepared for weather conditions that make driving dangerous 

Find more tips on the department's Driving Safety Homepage on ADOT's website here. 

"Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov, by calling 511, downloading the AZ 511 app and through ADOT’s Twitter feed, @ArizonaDOT," the department said.

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