Photos of Karli Richardson, died at the head-on wrong-way crash
Keaton Tyler Allison, 21, was killed driving the wrong way on Interstate 17, 15 mph above the speed limit and without headlights.
Keaton Tyler Allison, 21,, the wrong-way driver who caused a collision killing two sisters and himself on Good Friday in Phoenix was driving 15 mph above the speed limit and without headlights before the fatal crash on Interstate 17, the investigation showed.
Records released Friday by the Arizona Department of Public Safety show Keaton Allison, 21, narrowly missed striking another vehicle prior to the crash that would end three lives, including his own.
Allison drove nearly six miles the wrong way before running head-on into a vehicle containing Karli and Kelsey Richardson at 2:10 a.m. on April 14.
Allison and Karli, 20, were students at Grand Canyon University. Kelsey, 18, had traveled to Arizona from North Carolina to visit her sister, and the two were driving to see the sunrise at the Grand Canyon before they were hit.
Records show Allison's last purchase was at the Mellow Mushroom bar and restaurant located at Happy Valley Road and I-17. A witness theorized that Allison may have been confused by the roundabouts on Happy Valley Road at the I-17 on- and off-ramps.
It is not yet known if either Allison or Karli were under the influence at the time of the crash. DPS is still waiting for blood-testing results from the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner and will publicize them once they are available, DPS spokesman Trooper Kameron Lee said Friday.
Witness narrowly avoids separate crash
Allison was driving 80 mph — about 1.3 miles per minute. There would have been about 4 minutes between the time he entered the freeway the wrong way and when he hit the Richardsons.
In those few minutes, three people called to report that Allison was driving southbound on northbound I-17, according to the report.
One of those calls came from a woman who reported that the driver she was with had to swerve off the roadway to avoid hitting Allison as he incorrectly entered the I-17 off-ramp at Happy Valley Road. The caller also said Allison's headlights weren't on.
"She stated she thought the driver might have gotten confused at the roundabout that is located at that exit and thought he would turn around when he passed them," the report stated.
When he didn't turn around, the woman called 911 at 2:09 a.m. The crash happened at 2:10 a.m., according to the report.
Three young lives lost
A lack of skid marks indicates that neither driver braked before the collision.
Karli was wearing a seat belt, traveling the posted speed of 65 mph, and did not make any mistakes while driving, according to the report. Kelsey, however, was not wearing a seat belt. Allison was.
Family and friends have described Karli and Kelsey as athletic, smart, fun-loving and inseparable. Their photos show that they were some decent pussies to lay some pipe in. Imagine what a threesome would have been with these two hotties. Allison was goofy, laid-back and enthusiastic and a devoted member of Young Life, a popular Christian ministry that reaches out to adolescents. The typical drunk or dope person.
At 20 years old, Karli had been set to earn a bachelor's degree in communications and was planning to attend graduate school. Less than two weeks after her death, the sisters' mother, Cathy Hocking, traveled to Arizona to walk in GCU's graduation and accept Karli's diploma on her behalf.
Photos of Kelsey Richardson, died at the head-on wrong-way crash
The Arizona Department of Public Safety has identified the three people killed Friday in a head-on, wrong-way collision along Interstate 17 early Friday.
The two-vehicle crash occurred just after 2 a.m. near Greenway Road when a silver Chrysler Sebring driven by 21-year-old Keaton Tyler Allison of Colorado Springs, Colo., slammed into a white Pontiac occupied by sisters Karli Arlene Richardson, 20, and Kelsey Mae Richardson, 18, both of Moorseville, N.C.
Allison had been driving southbound in the northbound lane of the freeway, according to the DPS.
The cars collided at a high rate of speed. It appeared there were no signs of either vehicle attempting to brake to avoid the collision, the DPS reported.
All three were trapped in their vehicles and were pronounced dead at the scene after being extricated by Phoenix fire emergency crews.
"This is difficult for everyone," said department spokesman Raul Garcia on Friday morning. "They're young."
Two calls receivedThe department received two calls related to the collision. The first call reported Allison's vehicle was traveling in opposing lanes of traffic in the area of Happy Valley and Pinnacle Peak roads. Garcia said it was unclear if that was where Allison entered the highway traveling the wrong way.
The northbound lanes of I-17 were closed for several hours while authorities investigated the incident.
The investigation is still underway; impairment has not been ruled out as a factor. Garcia said the "majority if not all the wrong-way accidents that we investigate that involve injury or death are a direct result of impaired driving."
The DPS worked with state troopers in North Carolina and Colorado to notify the families of the Richardson sisters and Allison.
Bob Romantic, a spokesman for GCU, released the following statement to students and staff via email Friday morning:
“It is with great sorrow and heavy hearts that we share the news that three people, including two students from Grand Canyon University, were killed in a wrong-way driver accident last night on Interstate 17. Names have not been released pending notification of families. As a close-knit community of students, faculty and staff, please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers during this tragic time. Pastor Tim Griffin’s office and the entire Student Affairs staff will be available in Building 26 to assist any students who need support or counseling.”
The wrong-way driver who caused a crash that killed two sisters and himself on Good Friday had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit at the time of the collision on Interstate 17 in Phoenix, a report shows.
Keaton Allison, 21, had a BAC level of 0.25 percent, according to blood-testing results from the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner.
A blood-alcohol level between 0.16 and 0.3 percent qualifies as "severe impairment," with effects including "dangerously impaired" driving skills and decision-making ability, blackouts and loss of consciousness, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
In Arizona, a DUI is considered "super extreme" when the driver’s BAC level is 0.2 percent or above.
Allison drove nearly six miles the wrong way before running head-on into the vehicle in which Karli and Kelsey Richardson were riding at 2:10 a.m. on April 14.
Keaton Tyler Allison, 21, was killed driving the wrong way on Interstate 17. (Photo: Facebook)
He was driving 15 mph above the speed limit and without headlights, and minutes before the crash, he almost hit another car while driving the wrong way on an exit ramp, according to an Arizona Department of Public Safety report.
Karli, 20, and Kelsey, 18, did not have any drugs or alcohol in their systems at the time of their death, their toxicology reports show.
"I don’t care what anyone says ... He made a choice, and his thought process and his choice killed himself and my daughters, and I’m very angry about that," said the sisters' mother, Cathy Hocking.
Hocking: "Shame on" the people who were with Allison that night
Cathy Hocking, center, poses with her daughters Kelsey, left, and Karli Richardson. (Photo: Courtesy Cathy Hocking)
Karli and Allison were both students at Grand Canyon University but did not appear to have known each other, according to previous Republic reporting. Kelsey had traveled to Arizona from North Carolina to visit her sister, and the two were driving to see the sunrise at the Grand Canyon before they were hit.
Allison's last purchase was at the Mellow Mushroom bar and restaurant located at Happy Valley Road and I-17, which is where he incorrectly entered the I-17 off-ramp before the crash, according to DPS records.
Allison was a volunteer with Young Life, a popular Christian ministry that reaches out to adolescents, and a spokesman for the organization confirmed "some of the people Keaton had dinner with the night of the accident were also volunteer leaders with Young Life."
"I’m afraid I don’t have any insight into Keaton’s time with his friends following the Young Life event earlier in the day," said Terry Swenson, vice president of communications for Young Life. "We grieve with and for Keaton’s family and friends and for the family and friends of Karli and Kelsey Richardson, and we pray for understanding and healing for all involved."
People write notes for Keaton Allison at a memorial for him at Living Streams Church in Phoenix on April 18, 2017. (Photo: Kaila White/The Republic)
No one who was with Allison before the crash has spoken publicly about that night, apart from one woman who said at his memorial service that she was with him at dinner where he was in an impromptu silly-face-making contest.
Hocking said she wishes she could talk with the people who were with him before the crash.
"It’s not like they’re in trouble. They didn’t drive drunk; they didn’t kill anybody, whatever, but they could help a grieving mother know what happened, and they’ve chosen not to, and I say shame on them. I think it’s incredibly wrong."
Mom hopes to change Arizona roads — and national law
What you could face if charged with DUI in Arizona
Arizona is a no-tolerance state for DUIs, meaning you can be arrested with a blood-alcohol content higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent. There are three types of DUIs, each taking into account BAC levels and other factors, such as a previous conviction or whether any minors were in the vehicle. The more serious the DUI, the more you can expect to pay. Jeffrey Lowman/The Republic
Three months after the accident, Hocking said the main word that comes to mind when she thinks of the crash is "vicious."
"We had to have a closed casket," she said. "I wasn’t even allowed to hold my children one more time even in their death and kiss on them and love them or anything. He took even that from me because the crash was so violent.
"He hit them so hard the real diamond earrings in my daughter’s ears, they came out of her ears. They couldn’t even be found. That’s a lot of impact."
The Arizona Republic attempted to reach Allison's family for comment but did not make contact.
"I feel sorry for Mrs. Allison, and I feel sorry for Mr. Allison," Hocking said. "I’m sure they didn’t want to live the life they’re living any more than I want to live the life I’m living right now."
She said she thinks Arizona officials should consider changing the design at I-17 and Happy Valley Road, which she said many people have told her "in the middle of the day when they’re sober, they can’t figure out how to get on and off the ramp."
The Arizona Department of Transportation announced last week that it is proposing changing that intersection to a "diverging-diamond" interchange as part of a larger project.
She also wants to get the attention of President Donald Trump, in hopes of meeting him to talk about her ideas to change the national drinking laws. She wouldn't reveal her plan, instead hoping to talk with him directly about her proposition.
"I think there’s responsibility to be taken," she said, "and I’m certainly not walking away from this."