Angelica Palomino, along with her mother, sister, nephew, son and daughter, were on their way to go shopping Monday afternoon when the excursion turned into a terrifying situation.
"I just saw my mom screaming and moving the wheel," she said. "And, I was like mom just relax, relax!"
Palomino was in the front seat of her mother's SUV when she saw canisters roll off of a flat-bed pickup truck and on to the Interstate 17 near Thomas.
"I was like, somebody's going to crash into one of them," said Palomino. "Something's going to happen. I already had a bad feeling."
She said their SUV hit one of the objects and then Palomino felt an impact from behind.
"It was really loud," she said. "The kids started crying. They got scared. I got scared. It was like if I was in a movie. My kids were crying. My sister was screaming. I could hear honks and the tires spinning."
A motorcycle and a semi-truck had slammed into the back of the SUV, causing it to spin.
Both of those vehicles caught fire.
"After we stopped, I heard the explosion of the semi," Palomino recalled. "I mean the flames just kept blowing up."
Everyone else involved in the crash escaped serious injury.
But, according to DPS, the motorcyclist – 27-year-old Steven Michael Daniels of Sun City – died at the scene.
Palomino said those who were there, before paramedics arrived, tried everything to save the man.
"I took them some water too that we had," she said. "Everybody was just handing them water bottles, so they could put the fire out."
Palomino said it's an image that haunts her.
"I just couldn't stop thinking of his family," she said. "Where was he going? What was he thinking when he was swerving?"
Palomino said she's hoping Daniels' family will allow her to attend his funeral, to pay her respects.
She'd also like to meet the semi-truck driver and give him a hug – because of the shared experience of what they went through.
DPS said the pickup truck driver who caused the fiery, chain-reaction crash left the scene.
Palomino said she wants that person to do the right thing and come forward.
"If he has a heart, he's probably thinking ‘what did I do?"' she said.
If you know who the driver of the suspect vehicle is, call DPS at (602) 223-2212 or Silent Witness at (480) WITNESS.
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News as this story develops.
Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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