Tuba City, AZ Pickup And Car Crash, Dec 1994


Tuba City (AP) - A pickup crossed the center line and crashed head-on into a car carrying 10 women and children on a remote stretch of highway on the Navajo Reservation. Eight people were killed, including four children.
The cause of the crash late Monday was under investigation. Investigators ruled out weather; it was dry and clear at the time.
City residents said a nearby junkyard is full of cars that have been wrecked over the years on that stretch of U.S. Highway 89 - a narrow road with a no-passing zone on the southbound side.
"People speed down that highway like it's a superhighway," said Rosalyn Curtis, chief executive officer for Tuba City Indian Medical Center. "What we need is more law enforcement in that area."
The driver of the pickup - BOBBY DODSON, 38, of Page - was thrown from his truck and died at the scene, said Sgt. Fred Haskey of the Navajo Department of Law Enforcement.
Three women and four children in the car, all from Ramah, N.M., were killed, and three children in the car were injured.
The other victims were identified by department Chief Edison Begay as ELOUISE LEE FRANCISCO, 40, and her 9-year-old son, NELSON, JR.; PHNEON LEE FRANCISCO, 28, her 8-year-old daughter, VINNE, and 4-year-old son, HARLEY; SHIRLENE FRANCISCO, 23, and her 1-year-old girl, ETHEA.
It was not immediately clear if the women were related; officials could not confirm the relationships of the injured children, and a relative at the hospital turned aside reporters seeking information about the families.
Taken to area hospitals were ELLEENA LEE, 8; STEVEN FRANCISCO, 3; and LEONA FRANCISCO, 2.
LEONA suffered internal bleeding while STEVEN had only minor bruises. Both were in stable condition at Tuba City Indian Medical Center, said hospital spokesman Luis Vazquez.
ELLEENA was in fair condition at Flagstaff Medical Center with leg injuries.
The accident occurred 76 miles north of Flagstaff, on the western edge of the nation's largest Indian reservation, which spreads across parts of Northern Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
Lt. Kevin Lee of the Navajo Nation Fire Department said he was among the first on the scene.
"There was debris all over the place," he said. "There were car parts strewn all over the road at least 50 feet, including the dashboard and hood of the sedan, and the white pickup was engulfed in flames.
Lee said he spotted two bodies on the ground and counted the bodies in the sedan.
"It's always hard to respond to things like this, especially when it involves children," he said.

Arizona Daily Star Tucson 1994-12-28