By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – A single vehicle crash knocked out power to a large swath of Safford along U.S. Highway 70 on Monday night. The driver, Linda Castillo Sanchez, 32, was ejected from her truck and was flown to Banner – University Medical Center Tucson for treatment. As of early Tuesday afternoon, she was listed as being in serious condition.
Reporting from the scene along 8th Avenue just south of the 8th Avenue Bridge, it appeared Castillo was thrown from a quad cab truck after it went through a utility pole along the western shoulder and off the road. First responders attended to her roughly 25 yards from where the truck stopped.
During the crash, the truck traversed a culvert ditch and rolled several times into a plowed up cotton field west of the roadway at about 6:25 p.m.
Graham County Undersheriff Jeff McCormies said Castillo was northbound on 8th Avenue when her truck veered off to the east and stuck a curb. The truck then jerked back to the west and went across four lanes of traffic, eventually going sideways and contacting the western curb, the utility pole and into the cotton field. The underlying cause of the crash is still under investigation.
The severed utility lines cut power to all the businesses along the commercial corridor of U.S. Highway 70 from at least 8th Avenue to 20th Street. The traffic light at 20th Street was also completely knocked out and stores such as Walmart at 755 S. 20th Street were evacuated during the outage. Safford Utilities worked diligently and power was restored to most of the affected area by 6:50 p.m. While the power was restored quickly, residents across the Gila River were still without Internet capabilities the following day.
Safford officers, along with Graham County Sheriff’s Office deputies, arrived at the scene to cordon off the area and divert traffic. Paramedics from Southwest Ambulance attended to Sanchez, and Safford firefighters helped place the injured driver on a backboard and transport her from the field to an ambulance. An air ambulance helicopter landed at the scene and flew the victim to a Banner – University Medical Center Tucson for treatment. One lane of travel was opened in each direction by about 9:30 p.m., according to McCormies.
Magnum Towing continued to work on removing the truck from the field even after the single lanes were opened. The scene was diagrammed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety at the behest of the GCSO, which is the lead investigative authority on the case.
“Right now, it’s still under investigation,” McCormies said. “We hope the best for her as far as the recovery, and once we figure out all the facts we’ll document it and go from there.”
This article was updated Tuesday at 12:11 p.m.