A motorcyclist who rear-ended a car on Interstate 10 Wednesday night survived the crash and walked two miles in search of a telephone.
A witness living two miles from the crash site told investigators the rider was on foot when he approached and asked to borrow a cell phone about 90 minutes after the collision, said Officer Raul Molina, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
After allowing the man to use the phone, the witness called police. By the time officers from the Marana Police Department arrived, the motorcyclist was gone.
“Eventually, through investigation, the rider was identified,” Molina said, but “We don’t have any extent of injuries.
DPS investigators were still trying to locate the motorcyclist — Chandler resident Antonio Edward Sutherland, 43— Thursday afternoon. They want to interview him about the crash and determine whether he needs medical attention, Molina said.
“Internal injuries can run you down. Our biggest concern is we want to find him and make sure he’s received medical care.”
“This is a first for me,” Molina said. “In 29 years I've never seen such a case, that a person walked away and wandered off.”
Other drivers, Wednesday night, told investigators Sutherland was weaving in and out of traffic, driving “very recklessly” and traveling in excess of the 75-mile-per-hour speed limit just before 10 p.m. when he pulled into the center lane and crashed into the back of a sedan, Molina said.
The crash occurred in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 between the Marana Road and Tangerine Road exits.
Witnesses said Sutherland was thrown from the motorcycle and four vehicles ran over the bike, demolishing it and damaging the cars.
When emergency crews arrived on the scene, however, they could find no sign of the motorcycle rider.
Traffic was diverted off the freeway for five hours while first responders from multiple agencies searched for the motorcyclist, said Capt. Adam Goldberg, spokesman for the Northwest Fire District.
Officers and firefighters on foot and in vehicles combed the area along both sides of the interstate. A Pima County Sheriff’s Department survey plane with infrared imaging equipment searched from above. And a search-and-rescue dog was brought in. Crews even drained an irrigation canal along the interstate looking for a body, Goldberg said.
Investigators canvassed hospitals and inspected tractor-trailers at the TTT Truckstop along Interstate 10 southeast of Tucson.
“We were exploring every avenue of possibilities — maybe a commercial vehicle ran him over — but there was no indication at the scene that that actually happened,” Molina said.
DPS reopened the interstate at 3 a.m. At daybreak investigators returned to the scene to continue the search, then learned from the Marana Police Department that the rider had survived the crash and left the scene hours earlier.
The investigation is ongoing. Check back with StarNet for updates.