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DPS: Wrong-way driver stopped near I-10/I-17 stack overnight; thermal camera credited

Posted at 4:13 AM, Jan 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-09 12:32:11-05

PHOENIX — A wrong-way driver was taken into custody early Monday morning near downtown Phoenix.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the vehicle was first spotted going southbound in the northbound lanes of Interstate 17 at Camelback Road.

Officials were able to stop the driver near the I-17 and I-10 stack. DPS says a trooper used lights and sirens while approaching the vehicle head-on near I-17 and McDowell Road.

The driver, later identified as 59-year-old Diane J. Begay, was taken into custody and the vehicle was towed from the scene.

Begay was booked into jail on charges of aggravated DUI and endangerment.

No injuries were reported during the incident.

The Arizona Department of Transportation is crediting its thermal camera-based wrong-way vehicle detection system with stopping a crash from happening in this case.

They say the detection system alerted authorities and other motorists about the pickup truck being driven the wrong way on I-17.

ADOT officials say the thermal camera detected the truck getting on the freeway about 3 a.m. and DPS troopers were dispatched quickly.

The $4 million system involves 90 thermal cameras along 15 miles of I-17.

ADOT officials say the system has been operational for a year and has recorded detections of more than 45 wrong-way vehicles so far.