PHOENIX (AP) — A fiery crash that killed a mother and her five children happened after she made a U-turn in an interstate median and a semi-trailer hit her vehicle from behind, authorities said Friday.

The crash split Natisha Moffett’s car in half, and it burst into flames, killing the 35-year-old Phoenix resident and her children, all of whom were 18 or younger, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.

Moffett had been traveling on Interstate 10 west of Phoenix ahead of a friend who was in another vehicle. That woman got a flat tire and called Moffett to say she was going to cross the median to get to a safer location to seek help. She told Moffett to follow her, according to court documents.

Although there was enough space on the side of the interstate to pull off safely, the two vehicles crossed the median in a no U-turn zone, authorities said. They pulled into one of the traffic lanes and were going about 15 mph (24 kph) when they were struck by the semi-trailer that was going under the speed limit at 73 mph (117 kph), authorities said.

Everyone in Moffett’s car died in the July 2 crash. The surviving friend and her four children, who range in age from 2 to 14, suffered injuries that included cuts, fractures and a brain bleed, according to court documents. Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said Friday that the children remain hospitalized.

The friend is not facing any charges related to the deaths of Moffett or her children, Graves said.


The details of the crash weren’t released until Thursday, when the friend was released from the hospital and arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, the agency said.

The four assault charges relate to her actions while driving and the injuries of her children, Graves said. The two drug charges apparently stemmed from a white powdery substance and a partly melted straw that a hospital security guard found in the woman’s purse, according to court documents.


The story has been updated to correct the spelling of the deceased woman’s last name to Moffett.