An Arizona Department of Transportation traffic camera shows the fiery scene of a head-on crash on May 12 that killed a driver and an off-duty Mesa police officer. (Source: Arizona Department of Transportation)
Three people died when a wrong-way driver caused a head-on crash on southbound Interstate 17 on May 16. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Two people were killed when a pickup truck and a passenger vehicle collided in the eastbound lanes of Loop 202 San Tan Freeway just before 2 a.m. on May 18. (Source: CBS 5 News)
NEW RIVER, AZ (CBS5) -
Three people were injured after their vehicles collided head-on in the fourth wrong-way crash in two weeks, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said Sunday.
Impairment is possibly a factor in the collision on Interstate-17 near New River, said DPS spokesman Bart Graves.
DPS said it began receiving calls at about 11 p.m. Saturday that a Jeep was traveling the wrong way on I-17.
The Jeep slammed head-on into an oncoming pickup truck after traveling three miles going the wrong way. The front ends of both vehicles were crunched beyond recognition.
Two people in the Jeep were rushed to the hospital. The passenger in the vehicle had serious head trauma. The driver was hurt but the extent of injuries is not known.
The driver of the pickup was also taken to a hospital and is expected to be OK.
Authorities said the passenger in the wrong-way Jeep told them they thought they were on the correct side of the roadway.
"We'll look at that statement with what witnesses tell us," Graves said.
The northbound I-17 lanes were closed down from 11:30 p.m. Saturday to 1:45 p.m. Sunday.
DPS has not yet released any names of the injured.
"Our ultimate goal is to make sure this never happens again," Graves said.
It's the fourth wrong-way crash in two weeks. Since May 12, wrong-way crashes have killed seven people in accidents on U.S. 60, Interstate 17 and Loop 202.
May 18: A pickup truck and a passenger vehicle collided in the eastbound lanes of Loop 202 San Tan Freeway in Gilbert shortly before 2 a.m. Two people were killed and two others were injured following the head-on collision. DPS said initial tests showed 68-year-old Patricia Murphy had a blood-alcohol content of 0.18, more than twice the legal limit. A urine test showed Murphy also tested positive for opiates and benzodiazepine.
May 16: Three people from Indonesia were killed and three passengers suffered serious injures in an Interstate 17 collision near Bumblebee Road after their minivan was struck by wrong-way driver's car.
May 12: Mesa police Sgt. Brandon Mendoza was killed by a wrong-way driver as he drove home from his shift. The suspect, 42-year-old Raul Silva Corona, had been traveling in the wrong direction for about 30 minutes before the crash occurred.
Shortly after the third wrong-way crash occurred, the directors of the state Departments of Public Safety and Transportation and the Governor's Office of Highway Safety met to review the accident and to discuss strategies.
The agencies said they're focusing on enforcement, engineering and education and that removal of impaired drivers from the highways is the Highway Patrol's top priority.
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