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MESA, AZ (CBS5) -
One person is dead and two people were critically injured in a multi-vehicle crash in Mesa on Sunday afternoon.
The victim is identified as 87-year-old John Schrier. He was passenger in the car heading the wrong way on Recker Road driven by an 85-year-old woman, who suffered life-threatening injuries, police said.
Their vehicle struck another one which rolled over. The driver, a 56-year-old man, suffered minor injuries and was treated at a local hospital. A passenger in his vehicle, a 52-year-old woman, suffered life-threatening injuries.
The car containing the elderly couple continued traveling the wrong way and struck two more vehicles. A driver and passenger in one of those cars suffered minor injuries. Three people in the fourth car escaped injury.
About 30 police officers and firefighters helped the injured and investigated the scene in the 2900 block of N. Recker at 2 p.m.
A fire station was just down the block so first responders arrived within minutes.
"There was literally no time to prepare for instances like today," Capt. Dean Morales of the Mesa Fire Department said. "Next thing you know you're right on the scene and you're in the middle of it all."
Firefighters rescued nine people. Two were airlifted. Medics rushed four others to the hospital by ambulance. That's where investigators say the husband of the wrong-way driver died.
"When there is trauma involved, we talk about the golden hour," Morales said. "That means a trauma patient needs to be in the operating room. We try to get them within an hour of the incident."
Police said they are trying to determine why the elderly couple was headed the wrong way.
Firefighters in Mesa said it's the worst crash they've seen in a long time.
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.
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