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An epidemic of wrong-way driving Sunset Point crash one of three wrong-way collisions in one week

Elizabeth Medora~ 5/21/2014

NORTH VALLEY – A driver heading north on I-17 south hit a minivan early Friday morning, killing three of the passengers.

Between May 12 and May 18, three separate collisions caused by wrong-way drivers occurred. This has prompted action from law enforcement around the state, culminating in an emergency meeting called by the governor’s office on Sunday. During this meeting, the Department of Public Safety, the Office of Highway Safety, and the Arizona Department of Transportation discussed ways to prevent wrong-way driving and protect drivers who encounter someone wrong-way driving.

DPS reported that multiple police officers responded to emergency calls on May 16 regarding a Chrysler 300 heading in the wrong direction. They attempted to apprehend the driver by vehicle and by helicopter but were unable to intercept him.

The Phoenix man drove northbound on the southbound highway for more than 20 miles before hitting a minivan near milepost 248. The driver was seriously injured in the crash but is expected to recover.

Three passengers in the minivan struck by the wrong-way driver were killed. Three other passengers were injured and were airlifted from the accident scene.

On May 12, an impaired wrong-way driver hit and killed an off-duty Mesa police officer after traveling approximately 30 miles in the wrong direction on various freeways. The third wrong-way collision of the week occurred early on the morning of May 18 when a wrong-way driver struck another vehicle in Gilbert, killing two passengers.

These wrong-way collisions are currently under investigation. Detectives are investigating the Sunset Point crash and are asking for citizens’ help. Anyone who saw the Chrysler 300 driving the wrong way is asked to call Detective James Waltermire at (602) 223-2370 or Detective Sergeant Mark Hoerrmann at (602) 223-2193.