DPS: Three injured in wrong-way crash along I-17

NEW RIVER, AZ - For the fourth time in two weeks, a wrong way crash has occurred in Arizona.

The latest incident happened around 11:30 Saturday night along Interstate 17 near New River.

According to investigators on the scene, a Jeep Cherokee was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes when the crash occurred.

A Department of Public Safety officer on the scene told ABC15 two men in their 20s were in the Cherokee and apparently hit the guardrail moments before striking a white pickup truck driven by a man in his 50s.

Officers said the driver of the pickup truck suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries.

The wrong way driver was flown to St. Joseph's hospital in Phoenix with serious injuries and his passenger had a broken leg.

DPS spokesman Bart Graves said the passenger in the wrong-way vehicle told officers he and the driver thought they were in the correct lane. Graves said they traveled about three miles before the collision.

DPS later said all victims had been released from the hospital around 7 a.m.

Impairment is being investigated as a factor in the collision.

The three previous wrong way driver crashes resulted in seven deaths over the past two weeks:

  • Monday May 12 a drunk driver going the wrong way near I-10 & US killed Mesa Police Sgt. Brandon Mendoza.  The drunk driver died as well.
  • Friday May 16 three people were killed when a wrong way driver slammed into a minivan on I-17 near Black Canyon City.  The wrong way driver remains hospitalized.
  • Sunday May 18 a drunk driver going the wrong way on Loop 202 near Higley killed two people.  According to DPS, the wrong way driver, 68-year old Patricia Murphy was impaired and survived.

Graves said impaired driving is a community issue.

"If you know somebody is known for getting behind the wheel while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or whatever, it's up to you to convince that person to hand over the keys, to just get somebody else to drive," Graves said. "It really starts there."

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