A five-vehicle chain-reaction crash Friday morning in Gilbert sent four people to the hospital with injuries. And Gilbert police said they arrested the driver of a crane truck that caused the crash on charges of driving under the influence of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The pileup blocked traffic on Germann Road from Lindsay Road to Val Vista Drive as a Chandler hazardous materials team cleaned up hydraulic fluid and engine oil. The road remained closed Friday afternoon, and crews were working to clear it for evening rush hour.
Gilbert police Lt. Joe Ruet said a truck with a built-in crane failed to stop as it approached a line of westbound vehicles waiting to cross the four-way stop at Lindsay and Germann about 8:20 a.m.
“The big rig hit two vehicles, and the rest was a chain reaction,” Ruet said.
The truck hit a car, which landed perpendicular to the road, its nose edging a canal on the south side of Germann. Three other vehicles were involved.
Police found the crane truck driver, Bobby Ray Hicks, 33, of Gilbert, had a methamphetamine pipe at the scene. Based on further investigation, police suspect Hicks was under the influence of a central nervous system stimulant at the time of the crash, Ruet said. Hicks was released pending lab tests of his blood. Additional charges, including commercial motor vehicle violations, are pending, Ruet added.
Gilbert resident Lea Ann Groves was in one of the cars involved in the pileup. She saw the first car hit by the crane truck fly through the air in her rearview mirror.
"That's when the crane flipped," Groves said. "I heard the screeching of the brakes. It just kept coming and coming, that sound that nobody likes to hear."
Three people injured in the accident were taken to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital; one of them was taken by helicopter. Another person was taken to a Chandler hospital. There was no word on their conditions Friday. Groves and another driver declined treatment.
About 30 fire personnel from the Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa fire departments responded. Roughly 15 police and fire units were on the scene.
Gilbert fire Capt. Robert Foster said the crane had a 100-gallon tank of hydraulic fluid that was leaking. Crews used peat moss and five-gallon buckets to try to contain the leak, which did not affect the canals bordering Germann Road.