SIERRA VISTA - A high school cheerleader and a coach were in critical condition Saturday after a van from a southern Arizona high school rolled over on the way to a Friday night football game.
Eight cheerleaders and three coaches were in the van from San Manuel High School when it crashed about 10 miles west of Benson.
Three other cheerleaders were hospitalized at University Medical Center in Tucson in fair condition, a hospital official said. Four students and two coaches were released after treatment at area hospitals, school Principal John Ryan said Saturday. All of the cheerleaders and coaches are female.
The crash injured everyone in the 15-passenger Dodge van that rolled on Interstate 10 after the driver swerved to miss a dog on the highway, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Two people in an SUV that had been following the van were killed when they were hit by a truck as they slowed to avoid the crash.
The three coaches and eight-member cheerleading squad from San Manuel were on their way to Tombstone for a game.
The game was canceled.
A spokesman at University Medical Center said van driver and coach Elizabeth Zazueta, 47, was in critical condition.
Cheerleader Tyler Cline, 16, was also in critical condition.
Ryan was at the hospital with family and friends of the injured on Saturday. He said he couldn’t discuss the nature of the injuries of those hospitalized but had spoken with their families.
“We’re a real close-knit school. All the kids and staff are really, really close,” Ryan said. “It’s tough on all of us, but we’re family and we’ll get through it together.”
San Manuel is a small copper mining town about 40 miles northeast of Tucson. The combined junior/senior high school has about 500 students, with about 300 in the high school.
Ryan praised the Tombstone High School officials who decided to cancel the game.
“I think you have to give a lot of credit to Tombstone for responding,” Ryan said. “The parents and kids at Tombstone were amazing.”
Ryan called the Tombstone principal and told him the news after the crash Friday evening.
Two of three people in an Acura sport utility vehicle died when the driver slowed suddenly and was hit by a semitrailer behind it, according to DPS. The driver of the SUV and two people in the truck were hurt.
The dead in the Acura were identified as Richard Spettigue, 56, of Casa Grande and Brandon Spettigue, 22, of Surprise.
Driver Sally Spettigue, 41, of Surprise was hospitalized in fair condition at UMC.
The driver of the truck was treated and released and a passenger was hospitalized, Lt. James Warriner said.