Valley woman Melissa Flaig has close call with wrong-way driver on Interstate 17

PHOENIX - Department of Public Safety officials say four people were injured after a wrong-way crash on Interstate 17 Wednesday night.

The accident happened around 10:15 p.m. at I-17 and Thomas Road.

Department of Public Safety Officer Carrick Cook said officers received several 911 calls about a wrong-way driver going northbound in the southbound lanes of I-17 near 7th Avenue.

Cook said patrol officers immediately responded and one officer was in a position to ram the wrong-way vehicle near McDowell Road. The wrong-way vehicle was able to get around the officer as he tried to stop the vehicle by ramming it.

According to Cook, the wrong-way vehicle eventually sideswiped a white passenger car with two people inside.

A Lexus passenger car was then hit head-on causing serious injuries to the 30-year-old female driver.

Melissa Flaig said she was driving southbound in the middle lane when she suddenly saw headlights on the wrong side of the freeway, then saw an officer put on his emergency lights and turn into traffic.

“He was trying to stop, whatever was going on. At first when I saw the lights I thought someone was getting pulled over,” said Flaig.

But then she saw the wrong-way vehicle hit a silver Lexus in front of her.

“It was all chaotic, I saw debris, I saw the car coming at me. I kept thinking to myself 'Oh God, Oh God just please stop, please stop,'" said Flaig.

Flaig said when her vehicle stopped, she could see the Lexus just a half a car length in front of her.

Flaig described being so shaken up, she had trouble letting go of her steering wheel, but then she could hear the screams from one of the drivers who had been injured.

“She was screaming, she was screaming the entire time. She didn't want anyone touching her. She was focused on her leg being broken,” said Flaig who ran towards the screams.

Flaig said the victim had crawled out from the driver’s seat through the passenger side door and was lying up against the freeway barrier.

“There were several people there and she wouldn’t let anyone touch her, but she let me hold her hand,” said Flaig.

That’s when Flaig said it all hit her.

“Reality set in, that it was real, that it happened. Scary, I told my husband that if I had left earlier, I would've been involved," recalls Flaig of the near miss.

Cook said the wrong-way driver, a male in his 60s, was also critically injured. All four people involved in the crashes, sideswipe and head-on collision were transported to local hospitals.

Cook said Thursday all the victims are expected to survive.

DPS officials believe impairment may be a factor. Cook said the driver of the wrong-way vehicle is facing aggravated assault and other various criminal charges.

Cook said in the event someone passes away as a result of the crash, those charges could be upgraded to homicide.

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