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CASA BLANCA — Three Casa Grande area residents were killed in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 10 early Sunday morning, authorities said.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officials say troopers got a call of a driver traveling west in the eastbound lanes of the freeway around 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

Shortly after, authorities say a crash was reported near Riggs Road involving a wrong-way driver.

The wrong-way driver was identified as 71-year-old Cornel Eugine Ard of Casa Grande.

DPS says Ard was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Four people were in a vehicle hit by the wrong-way driver and two passengers were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

The two deceased passengers of the vehicle that was struck by the wrong-way driver have been identified as 49-year-old Eva Michelle Sanchez of Arizona City and 27-year-old Jacob Adam Morales of Casa Grande.

The driver and a third passenger were taken to a hospital for treatment. Their conditions weren’t immediately known.

DPS says a driver and passenger of a third vehicle involved were treated at the scene.

They say impairment is not believed to be a factor in the crash.

This was the third fatal accident in less than a week on the 23-mile stretch of I-10 between Casa Grande and Chandler, claiming the lives of five people.

On Monday, Feb. 10, a 41-year-old Casa Grande man was killed in a rollover on I-10 near Riggs Road that closed the freeway for hours, authorities said.

Anthony Kittrell of Casa Grande was ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to an Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman.

According to the DPS, the single-vehicle rollover killed Kittrell at milepost 171.

On Wednesday, Feb. 12, another fatal crash closed eastbound Interstate 10 on the Gila River Indian Community during the beginning of the morning commute.

A DPS spokesman said the crash occurred just after 5 a.m. and it involved a single-vehicle rollover. Gila River Police are investigating the crash.

The names or city of residency of the deceased has not been released by Gila River Police.

The 23-mile stretch of freeway is the only part of the interstate between Phoenix and Tucson that is two lanes in both directions. The state is currently conducting a feasibility study on adding an additional lane in each direction.


Jim Headley is a reporter covering breaking news, crime and justice around Pinal County. He can be reached at jheadley@pinalcentral.com.