NATIONAL NEWS

NTSB report casts doubt on driver’s claim that truck’s steering locked in crash that killed cyclists

Feb 28, 2024, 3:12 PM

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — A newly released report on last year’s fatal crash involving a pickup truck and a group of bicyclists near Phoenix has cast doubts about the driver’s claim that the vehicle’s steering locked up.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a report Tuesday on the Feb. 25, 2023, crash on a Goodyear bridge that left two bicyclists dead and 17 others injured.

According to the report, the truck’s steering worked fine when the NTSB watched a technician drive the vehicle, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety also found nothing wrong with the steering.

The truck driver — identified as Pedro Quintana-Lujan — was originally booked into a Phoenix jail on suspicion of two counts of manslaughter, three counts of aggravated assault, 18 counts of endangerment and two counts of causing serious injury or death by a moving violation.

Quintana-Lujan was later released after Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell sent the case back to Goodyear police.

Police eventually completed their investigation — saying the incident appeared to be an accident — and sent the case back to Mitchell’s office. On Nov. 30, the office said it wouldn’t pursue felonies against Quintana-Lujan and instead referred the case to the Goodyear’s city prosecutor.

It was unclear Wednesday if Quintana-Lujan, now 27, will be charged again by Goodyear authorities in light of the NTSB report.

Email messages sent to Goodyear authorities weren’t immediately returned and neither was a request for comment sent to an email address believed to belong to Quintana-Lujan.

A spokesperson for the Maricopa County Attorney’s office said it had nothing to add to the NTSB report and emphasized that Mitchell earlier noted that two independent evaluations of the vehicle had found no issues.

Quintana-Lujan originally told police that he was headed to work with materials he picked up for a job and his truck was hauling a trailer when it crashed into the group of 20 bicyclists on the Cotton Lane Bridge in Goodyear, located about 19 miles (30 kilometers) west of Phoenix.

Quintana-Lujan said he was driving in the left of two northbound lanes when his steering locked and he drifted into the vacant right lane, then into the adjacent bike lane where he heard “a sound similar to metal.”

Police said reconstruction of the collision determined that when the driver entered the bike lane, he also struck the concrete barrier that separates the roadway from a sidewalk — leaving black tire marks halfway up the wall and striking several cyclists.

The crash shook the area’s avid cyclists, who encourage other riders to travel in large groups for improved protection.

Last Sunday, some survivors of the crash joined other bicyclists for a commemorative ride in Goodyear.

“I think it will not be a start, but it will bring an end and bring an emotional closure,” said Clay Wells, who cycled with the group for the first time since he was injured in the crash. “It’s been a long time coming.”

National News

Associated Press

Douglas DC-4 plane crashes into river outside Fairbanks, Alaska; not clear how many people on board

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A Douglas DC-4 airplane crashed into the Tanana River near Fairbanks on Tuesday, Alaska State Troopers said. It was not immediately known how many people were on board. The website www.airlines.net said standard passenger seating for a DC-4 was 44 during its heyday, but most have been converted to freighters. Troopers […]

37 minutes ago

Associated Press

College students, inmates and a nun: A unique book club meets at one of the nation’s largest jails

CHICAGO (AP) — For college senior Nana Ampofo, an unconventional book club inside one of the nation’s largest jails has transformed her career ambitions. Each week, the 22-year-old drives a van of her DePaul University peers to Cook County Jail to discuss books with inmates and recently, the well-known activist Sister Helen Prejean. Ampofo comes […]

43 minutes ago

Associated Press

Someone fishing with a magnet dredged up new evidence in Georgia couple’s killing, officials say

McRAE-HELENA, Ga. (AP) — Someone using a magnet to fish for metal objects in a Georgia creek pulled up a rifle as well as some lost belongings of a couple found slain in the same area more than nine years ago. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says driver’s licenses, credit cards and other items dragged […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Supreme Court to weigh whether doctors can provide emergency abortions in states with bans

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly two years after overturning the constitutional right to abortion, the Supreme Court will consider Wednesday how far state bans can extend to women in medical emergencies. The justices are weighing a case from Idaho, where a strict abortion ban went into effect shortly after the high court’s 2022 decision overturning Roe […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Transgender Louisianans lost their ally in the governor’s seat. Now they’re girding for a fight

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — As transgender people in Louisiana watched surrounding states in the deeply conservative South implement a slew of laws targeting nearly every facet of their lives in recent years, they counted on their ally in the governor’s office to keep their home a relative oasis. Former Gov. John Bel Edwards, the […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Pentagon set to send $1 billion in new military aid to Ukraine once bill clears Senate and Biden

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is poised to send $1 billion in new military aid to Ukraine, U.S. officials said Tuesday as the Senate moved ahead on long-awaited legislation to fund the weapons Kyiv desperately needs to stall gains being made by Russian forces in the war. The decision comes after months of frustration, as […]

4 hours ago

NTSB report casts doubt on driver’s claim that truck’s steering locked in crash that killed cyclists