BENSON, Ariz. – A van carrying high school cheerleaders rolled on a southern Arizona interstate, and two other vehicles crashed behind the wrecked van. Two people were killed, and 14 were injured.
The three coaches and eight cheerleaders in the van were traveling from San Manuel to Tombstone, about 70 miles away, for a Friday night football game. The game was canceled.
The Department of Public Safety said the van's driver swerved to miss a dog before the van rolled about 10 miles west of Benson. An SUV slowed to avoid the crash, and was struck by a semi-truck behind it, killing two passengers in the SUV.
University Medical Center in Tucson said Saturday that the van's driver and coach Elizabeth Zazueta, 47, and cheerleader Tyler Cline, 16, were in critical condition.
Three other cheerleaders were in fair condition, and the other cheerleaders and coaches were treated for injuries and released. The SUV driver and a semi-truck passenger were in fair condition, and the truck driver was treated and released, the department said.
San Manuel's Principal John Ryan praised the Tombstone High School officials who decided to call the game. "The parents and kids at Tombstone were amazing," he said.
After Ryan called the Tombstone principal with the news Friday night, the football teams met in the center of the field to pray together.
Ryan was at the hospital with family and friends of the injured Saturday. "It's tough on all of us, but we're family and we'll get through it together," he said.
San Manuel, a copper mining town about 40 miles northeast of Tucson, has a combined junior/senior high school with about 500 students.