Collision sends five to hospital
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – A man is being investigated for a possible DUI infraction after being involved in a four-vehicle crash Monday, July 22, that sent a truck careening into two parked pickup trucks at the Economy Inn.
Officers were initially dispatched at about 9 p.m. to the area of 300 E. U.S. Highway 70 regarding a four-vehicle collision.
According to a Safford Police report, the driver of the first vehicle, Ray Acuna, 48, said he was westbound on U.S. Highway 70 and was attempting to turn southbound onto Gila Avenue when he was struck by a pickup truck. Acuna said he didn’t see the truck when he turned.
The pickup truck’s driver, Michael Provencio, 37, advised that he was eastbound on U.S. Highway 70 and Acuna pulled out in front of him.
The truck collided with Acuna’s front passenger tire, forcing the vehicle to spin 180 degrees. The truck bounced off and left the south side of the highway and struck two parked pickup trucks in the Economy Inn parking lot at 225 E. U.S. Highway 70.
Two of the three male passengers who were in the bed of Provencio’s truck were transported to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center (MGRMC) for treatment of injuries, including a possible concussion, and a passenger who was inside the truck was transported and treated for a broken ankle and hip injury. Provencio was transported to the hospital for treatment of a broken rib, according to the report. Later, Provencio was given a citation for driving on a suspended license. Acuna was also transported to MGRMC for treatment of a head injury.
On Wednesday, July 24, an investigating officer met with the owner of The Plank restaurant which is located at 501 S. Gila Ave. to see if the business’ security cameras caught the crash on video.
In the footage, the officer reported seeing Acuna’s vehicle make a “slow, sluggish” turn onto Gila Avenue from U.S. Highway 70 and Provencio’s truck colliding with the vehicle. The officer noted that Provencio’s truck appeared to be traveling faster than other vehicles traveling in the area.
When speaking with the restaurant’s owner, the officer was informed that Acuna had been at the establishment earlier and had left at about 6 p.m. after consuming five beers.
The officer concluded Acuna was at fault for the collision for failing to yield to the right of way for the truck and that possible DUI charges were pending the results of a blood test.