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State Trooper intercepts wrong-way I-17 driver

8/26/2015

Elizabeth Medora
Staff

YAVAPAI COUNTY – An Arizona State Trooper stopped a wrong-way driver on Saturday morning in what DPS Col. Frank Milstead called “one of the most heroic things I’ve seen.”

At about 6 a.m. on Aug. 22, DPS began receiving reports of a wrong-way driver traveling northbound in the southbound lanes on the I-17, near Black Canyon City. Trooper Jeremy Barr was in the area and set out to stop the wrong-way driver.

According to information from DPS, Barr initiated a traffic break within the southbound traffic lanes of I-17 at milepost 256, south of Cordes Junction, in order to slow down traffic and preventing a high-speed, head-on collision between the wrong-way truck and an unsuspecting driver. Barr conducted this traffic break for a mile before locating the wrong-way driver within a blind mountainside curve. The driver, who was going approximately 70 miles per hour, attempted to pass Barr, despite the DPS vehicle’s emergency lights and sirens.

Acting quickly to stop the wrong-way driver, Barr aimed for and struck the front-left corner of the wrong-way truck. Barr was able to stop the wrong-way driver by pushing the truck onto the ledge at the side of the freeway. Both vehicles came to rest between the median and traffic lane #1. Thanks to Barr’s quick thinking and selfless actions, no serious injuries were caused as a result of the wrong-way driver.

The wrong-way driver, identified as 48-year-old Timothy Dwayne Harjo of Wickenburg, was transported from the scene as a precautionary measure; he sustained minor injuries. Harjo was arrested by state troopers upon his release from the hospital and booked into the Maricopa County jail for aggravated assault, endangerment, and DUI. If you saw this wrong-way driver on the road on Saturday morning, Arizona State Troopers ask you to let them know by calling (602) 223-2129.

Barr was transported to a Phoenix area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. DPS notes that Barr is a 12-year department veteran and has faced six wrong-way vehicles during his career; he successfully stopped five of them. This was his third collision with a wrong-way vehicle.

In a press conference on Saturday, Milstead, who is the director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, honored Trooper Barr’s actions. If not for Barr’s actions, the wrong-way driver would almost certainly have caused a serious crash; he had already driven 12 miles in the wrong direction when Barr intercepted him. The wrong-way driver in this case was impaired. At the press conference, Milstead also issued a reminder of the dangers of impaired driving.

“Don’t let your friends drink and drive or do drugs and drive,” Milstead emphasized.

If you would like to post a message thanking Trooper Barr for his heroic actions, go online to Facebook.com and search Arizona Department of Public Safety and write a message on their Facebook page.