On March 17, at about 2:32 a.m. the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Operations Communications Center (OPCOM) received report of a wrong-way vehicle traveling westbound within the eastbound lanes of I-10 at MP 219, near Picacho Peak.
At 2:39 a.m. OPCOM received a 911 call reporting that the wrong-way vehicle collided head-on with a commercial motor vehicle. Upon arrival, State Troopers found the driver of the wrong-way vehicle unresponsive. The commercial truck-tractor and semi-trailer jackknifed after the collision, coming to final rest within the dirt median and traffic lane #1.
The wrong-way driver is a 55-year-old man out of Tucson. He was flown by helicopter to Maricopa Integrated Health System in Phoenix with critical life-threatening injuries. Impairment is suspected as a factor in this collision.
The commercial driver was not injured; he is a 52-year-old Phoenix resident.
The Eloy Police Department and the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office assisted ADPS.
The Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) Hazardous Materials Team (HAZMAT) mitigated diesel spillage from the commercial truck-tractor’s left saddle fuel tank.
“Do Not Enter” and “Wrong Way” signs are posted at exit ramps: 219 Picacho Peak, 226 Red Rock, and 232 Pinal Air Park Road. The investigation is looking into where the wrong-way vehicle entered the interstate.
I-10 eastbound was completely closed for approximately five hours.
ADPS Captain Damon Cecil said, “Help avoid wrong-way crashes by staying right, staying aware, and reporting them immediately.”
So far in 2016, ADPS has received 305 reports of wrong-way vehicles. Four incidents resulted in fatalities or injuries and 16 drivers have been arrested.
In 2015, beginning in April, ADPS received 1,042 reports of wrong-way vehicles. 17 incidents resulted in fatalities or injuries and 63 drivers were arrested.