Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: The GCSO is investigating a fatal crash early Sunday morning.
By Jon Johnson
GRAHAM COUNTY – A woman has died after crashing an SUV early Sunday morning on S. Sanchez Road just north of the bridge. The area is just east of the Safford Regional Airport.
First responders were dispatched to the scene at about 3:52 a.m. regarding a vehicle fully engulfed in fire with nobody near it. The body of the 36-year-old Mariana Sanchez was later found in the area and it appeared as if she had been ejected from the vehicle during a crash. Sanchez did not have any burn marks on her.
According to preliminary findings, the SUV slid sideways across the roadway and partially rolled. Sanchez was ejected from the vehicle and it continued until eventually stopping in a field. It is unknown how the SUV became ignited, but officials believe it possibly happened due to the crash. The rims to the rear tires were deeply buried in the dirt field indicating the tires had been spinning when the vehicle came to a stop in the dirt field before burning.
The Graham County Sheriff’s Office shut down the roadway in both directions for the critical incident and to preserve the scene for its investigation.
An ex-boyfriend was questioned about the crash and was arrested on an unrelated warrant but did not appear to have anything to do with the crash.
Graham County Undersheriff Jeff McCormies told the Gila Herald that the Sheriff’s Office is receiving assistance from the Arizona Department of Safety to help reconstruct the scene and examine the vehicle wreckage.
“We’re going to try to utilize people with more expertise than us,” McCormies said. “As evidence comes in, we’ll pursue any lead that comes to us to piece together what took place.”
An autopsy has been scheduled for Tuesday, and the incident remains under investigation.
“The vehicle accident is a part of the equation, but we’re still trying to determine what took place in that event in that early morning,” McCormies said.