College students killed in wrong-headed accident. man arrested

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Vincent Ian Acosta, 25, was arrested Oct. 28, 2022 and is facing three counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of three college students near New River, Arizona, authorities said. The three students were killed in a fall in the wrong direction.

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A 25-year-old driver was arrested and faces multiple charges weeks after he was accused of killing three college students in a wrong-way crash, Arizona authorities said.

The three Grand Canyon University freshmen were driving from Phoenix to watch the sunrise at the Grand Canyon when they were hit by Vincent Ian Acosta near New River on Oct. 10, the university told McClatchy News.

Abriauna Brook Hoffman and Magdalyn “Maggie” Louise Ogden, both 18 and from Clarkston, Washington, and 19-year-old hunter Elaine Kinohi Balberdi from Kula, Hawaii died in the crash.

Investigators initially suspected impairment as a factor in the crash, but an arrest was not made until Oct. 28, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Acosta was arrested and faces three counts of second-degree murder, 11 counts of endangerment and two counts of aggravated assault, soldiers said.

He not only hit the vehicle the students were in, but also a Nissan sedan and a commercial vehicle, authorities said. The occupants of these vehicles suffered life-threatening injuries.

The three students attended Grand Canyon University and lived together in the Diamondback Apartments on campus, the university said in a tweet.

Balberdi and Ogden were medical students studying biology, and Hoffman was studying marketing and advertising, the university said.

“These beautiful, smart, talented and beloved college students had their whole lives ahead of them,” a friend of the women said on Facebook.

New River is about 35 miles north of Phoenix.

This story was originally published Nov 2, 2022 4:06 p.m.

Helena Wegner is a McClatchy National Real-Time Reporter covering Washington state and the western region. She holds a degree in journalism from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She lives in Phoenix.

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