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Suspect arrested after fatal wrong-way collision


Elizabeth Medora

BLACK CANYON CITY – A Black Canyon City resident was arrested after a fatal wrong-way collision on the I-17 at Black Canyon City on the afternoon of July 4. In addition to the fatal collision, four other collisions were caused by the wrong-way driver, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

DPS reported that 76-year-old Darroll Wayne Roberts was arrested on-scene on a charge of DUI/Vehicular Homicide. DPS Media Specialist Bart Graves noted via email that the suspect’s actions and whereabouts prior to the incident will be covered as part of the ongoing investigation.

According to DPS, troopers received reports of a red SUV traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of I-17 near milepost 242, starting just after 2:30 p.m. on July 4. The fatal collision involved a motorcycle; the rider, 50-year-old Cindy Lee Meade of Phoenix, was declared deceased on-scene.

Due to the multiple collisions, the I-17 was closed in the area for several hours on the afternoon of July 4. The freeway reopened around 7 p.m. that night; the Arizona Department of Transportation reminded drivers there would be continued delays in the area, asking motorists to drive safely through the area.

Agencies continue to try to combat the issue of wrong-way driving with increased detection systems, warning signs, and other measures. ADOT is planning new wrong-way driving detection equipment for Valley freeways, including a thermal detection system; this project is expected to be rolled out this fall.

“ADOT has installed hundreds of larger, and lowered, wrong-way and do-not-enter signs at many highway interchanges in the past three years,” ADOT spokesperson Doug Nintzel said via email. “We’ve added wrong-way arrow pavement markers on many off-ramps while also testing wrong-way vehicle detection technology at several interchanges.”

Nintzel noted that ADOT is “keeping our options open when it comes to physical deterrents”, such as tire-spike systems, but that these spike systems have been researched and tested elsewhere in the country with poor results, since they are made for slow speed locations such as parking garages and park entrances.

“They are suggested to us all the time, but we haven’t seen one that could hold up under freeway-ramp traffic conditions,” Nintzel explained.

Wrong-way driving is frequently linked to impairment, and highway safety agencies are also looking at more ways to deal with the problem of impaired drivers.

“Impairment is the usually the number one factor in most wrong way injury and fatal collisions,” DPS spokesperson Graves said. “Drinking and Driving is a community wide problem and the Arizona Department of Public Safety along with the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety continue to work together to engage community support to address this issue.”