Ari­zona man charged in fa­tal crash

Yuma Sun - - OPINION -

FLAGSTAFF — A 19-year-old Ari­zona man is charged with man­slaugh­ter and other crimes in a wrong-way head-on crash in which four Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dents were killed while driv­ing to the Grand Canyon.

An Aug. 31 in­dict­ment charges Car­los Este­ban Quinonez of Casa Grande with four counts each of man­slaugh­ter and en­dan­ger­ment, one of crim­i­nal dam­age and two of driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence.

Author­i­ties say Quinonez was driv­ing an SUV south­bound in north­bound lanes of In­ter­state 17 near Munds Park south of Flagstaff when it col­lided with the Cal­i­for­ni­ans’ ve­hi­cle at 4 a.m. on Aug. 18.

Those killed were 26-year-old Chris­ten Ebert and 30-year-old Richard Chum from Stock­ton, 29-year-old Gary Sindhu from Lodi and 30-year-old Kouang Sae­fong from San Fran­cisco. Quinonez was in­jured in the crash. His de­fense at­tor­ney, Ryan Stevens, did not im­me­di­ately re­spond Thurs­day to a re­quest for com­ment on the allegations.

Mul­ti­ple in­ci­dents of wrong-way driv­ing, par­tic­u­larly those re­sult­ing in deadly crashes on Phoenix-area free­ways, have raised con­cern in Ari­zona.

Wrong-way free­way crashes this year have killed at least 12 peo­ple, in­clud­ing those killed in the Aug. 18 wreck.

The state Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion is in­stalling a cam­era-based pilot sys­tem on a 15-mile (24-kilo­me­ter) sec­tion of I-17 in Phoenix to de­tect wrong-way driv­ers and pro­vide alerts to author­i­ties and other driv­ers.

The Aug. 18 crash oc­curred the same week as a fiery wrong-way wreck in an­other ru­ral stretch of I-17. Four peo­ple were se­ri­ously in­jured in that col­li­sion near Black Canyon City.

Both of those I-17 wrecks caused long traf­fic back­ups on the highway, which is the main route be­tween Phoenix and Flagstaff and which crosses hilly ter­rain with few alternative routes.

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