A former state legislator was identified Friday night as the man killed during a high-speed collision that afternoon on a busy stretch of Scottsdale Road. Hours after the collision, two drivers also involved were arrested on suspicion of unintentionally killing him.
Cal Holman, 76, who used to represent Paradise Valley at the Legislature, was turning left into his central Scottsdale neighborhood when two drivers, each going faster than 70 mph, hit him from the side, police said.
State Sen. Carolyn Allen, R- Scottsdale, whose neighborhood is next to where the crash occurred, confirmed that the former legislator lived nearby.
“Oh my God. He's my neighbor,” Allen said when told of the death by phone. “Cal lives right off of Eastwood.”
Police said Holman was driving south and was making a left turn onto Eastwood Lane at about 12:45 p.m. when he was hit by two cars going north at high speeds.
Robert H. Van Brakel, 42, of Phoenix and Travis J. Aronica, 25, of Michigan were later identified as the drivers of those cars.
They were arrested just hours later after being treated at local hospitals for injuries they suffered in the crash, Scottsdale police announced on the department’s Web site late Friday.
Friends and family of Van Brakel and Aronica could not be located for comment. A message left at Van Brakel Electronics, which lists Robert Van Brakel as its president, was not returned late Friday.
“You know, I think that that is the right decision,” Allen said of the arrests.
Allen remembered Holman as still-active member of the Republican Party. He often circulated petitions in the neighborhood, she said.
“He was my neighbor, and he was a fine man who really, really took his civic responsibilities seriously,” she said. “He didn't quit and give up after he was in the state legislature.”
The posted speed limit along that part of Scottsdale Road is 45 mph. Police did not say whether they believe the two men were racing.
Van Brakel was driving a white Mercedes-Benz. Aronica, with a 25-year-old woman in the passenger seat, was driving a black Ford Mustang.
Van Brakel was the first to hit Holman’s 1973 Chevrolet Camaro, followed seconds later by Aronica, police said.
The violent impact ejected Holman from his car, police said.
The younger men, as well as the female passenger, all had injuries that were not life-threatening from the crash, which police described as “horrific.”
The investigation shut down Scottsdale Road between McCormick Parkway and Doubletree Ranch Road well into Friday evening, with large numbers of vehicles diverted onto an already busy Hayden Road.
Wreckage from the three vehicles was strewn along Scottsdale Road, in the median and in a nearby grassy drainage area.
Allen said Holman didn’t deserve “to be killed by two irresponsible guys having to prove their masculinity by driving fast in fast cars.”
“There but for the grace of God,” she said. “It could have been myself, my husband, my other neighbors.”