Two injured after wrong-way crash on SR 143 in Tempe

TEMPE, AZ - Two people are in the hospital after another wrong-way crash in Tempe.

This is the fifth high profile wrong way crash since mid May.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officials said they received a 911 call at 1:50 a.m. Monday reporting a driver headed the wrong way on State Route 143 near University Drive.

One minute after that, another 911 call came in reporting a crash in the same area.

DPS said a green sedan was traveling the wrong-way into northbound traffic on SR 143 when it crashed head-on into a maroon sedan.

Both drivers were conscious when DPS officials arrived and were able to briefly speak with investigators. The drivers were transported to an area hospital with serious injuries, but expected to survive.

According to DPS Spokesperson Bart Graves, investigators are looking at possible impairment with both drivers.

"The suspect driver, his license was already suspended for a previous DUI and the other driver involved, the victim driver, we're investigating for possible DUI, he told us he was lost," said Graves.

DPS officials believe the wrong-way driver got onto SR 143 from Loop 202 and drove about a half mile before crashing.

The most recent incident adds to a list of growing high profile wrong way crashes, but Graves called the recent cases an anomaly.

"It's important to realize we get 25 calls per month statewide of wrong way drivers and only 10 percent we interact with," said Graves.

He went on to explain 90 percent of the reported wrong way drivers across the state self-correct after realizing they made a mistake and are never contacted by officers.

The four previous high profile wrong way collisions resulted in seven deaths since May.

  • May 12 a drunk driver gong the wrong way near I-10 and US 60 killed Mesa Police Sgt. Brandon Mendoza.  The drunk driver died as well.
  • 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 in critical condition.
  • 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.
  • May 25 a suspected drunk driver traveling southbound in the northbound lanes on I-10 near New River crashed into a pickup truck.  The suspected impaired driver, his passenger and victim all survived.

"All of these horrific fatal crashes, impairment was a factor of either alcohol or drugs or a combination," said Graves.  "It (impairment) has been a factor in every single one of these."

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