DPS cruisers block the southbound lanes of I-17 near the I-10 split Thursday morning. (Source: CBS 5 News)
DPS spokesman Bart Graves says it's a mystery as to why or how a woman got onto the I-17 freeway before she was struck and killed Thursday morning. She has not been identified. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Traffic was already backed up on southbound I-17 about 5:15 a.m. Thursday. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
The southbound lanes of Interstate 17 at the "Split" with Interstate 10 have re-opened after a fatal car-pedestrian accident early Thursday morning.
The road had been closed since about 4 a.m. near the interchange with Phoenix-Sky Harbor International Airport, and traffic began flowing again just before noon, said an Arizona Department of Transportation spokesman.
Arizona Department of Public Safety officers were trying to identify and determine exactly why a woman was walking on southbound Interstate 17 when she was struck and killed Thursday morning.
The woman was killed near the Interstate 10 "Split" about 4 a.m. Thursday, said Bart Graves of DPS.
Graves said the husband of a woman who worked nearby called DPS to report she had heard media coverage about the incident and recalled hitting something on that portion of the freeway.
Graves said the victim, a black woman in her 30s, had been struck by numerous cars.
The collision near the interchange close to Phoenix-Sky Harbor International Airport was expected to keep the southbound lanes of I-17 closed until at least 11 a.m., Graves said.
Graves said the extended closure is necessary for detectives to thoroughly examine the crime scene, determine what happened, and identify the victim.
"We don't know who this woman is," Graves said, adding that officers would be checking for surface streets and freeway arteries for a car the victim might have left.
"There is no indication as to how she got on the freeway," Graves said. "We don't have any witnesses who saw her."
He also said ADOT cameras, while helpful in many instances, are not adequate to help pinpoint what happened.
Graves said a street light high above the scene was not working and that the victim was wearing dark clothing, making her hard to see at that time of the morning.
Initial calls to DPS reported a large dog or cow in the road.
"It was total darkness," Graves said.
Because the driver contacted DPS to report the incident, she won't be charged, Graves said.
All freeway traffic was detoured at 16th Street, the DPS spokesman said.
Garin Groff of ADOT said motorists should use alternate routes, including I-10 eastbound through the tunnel to avoid using I-17 south of the "Stack" interchange.
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News as this story develops.
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