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Police: Arkansas woman dies after SUV veers off I-30, crashes into motel; sleeping worker injured

A woman died early Wednesday when the SUV she was driving veered off Interstate 30 in Benton and then crashed into a nearby motel, hitting an employee sleeping inside, police said.

It happened around 12:30 a.m. as Ashley E. Pharr, 34, of Hot Springs was traveling west on the interstate, according to a preliminary report.

Police say Pharr’s Toyota 4Runner left the highway, crossed the median and traveled onto the northbound service road, where it overturned and struck the east side of Troutt Motel, 15438 Interstate 30 North.

Pharr was ejected from her SUV and pronounced dead at the scene around 1 a.m. by Saline County Coroner Kevin Cleghorn, police said.

The Toyota continued to travel and hit 45-year-old Dharmishthaben D. Patel of Little Rock, who was sleeping in her motel room. She was taken to Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton, according to authorities.

A Troutt Motel employee who answered the phone Wednesday morning identified Patel as a colleague who started working there about two months ago. Her injuries were described as not serious.

The weather was listed in the report as clear and roads were said to be dry at the time.

At least 190 deaths have been recorded so far this year in traffic crashes on Arkansas roads, according to preliminary figures.

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