PHOENIX — It was supposed to be a casual Friday afternoon of errands for off-duty, DPS Troopers Thomas and Vanessa Sevilla. That is, until they got on the Loop 101 heading north.
These veteran troopers have been trained to expect the unexpected; and they got it when a wrong-way driver appeared--and was bearing down on them.
"Little nervous with that vehicle coming straight towards us," Trooper Thomas Sevilla recalled.
The Sevilla's were northbound in the HOV lane near Bethany Home Road with a wrong-way car making its way south at highway speeds.
The quick thinking couple switched back to DPS trooper-mode without delay. Managing to avoid the car, Trooper Vanessa Sevilla got on the phone with dispatchers while her partner/husband ascertained what traffic conditions behind them were like.
The two said they had just passed a disabled vehicle near Indian School and the situation was about to get much more complicated.
"There's a curve there at Indian School," Trooper Vanessa said. "Going those speeds, it would have been very unfortunate for somebody," she said.
The off-duty troopers were able to make a rapid u-turn and start down the southbound lanes of Loop 101, hoping they could catch up to the driver in time. Fortunately, they were able to.
The wrong-way, southbound driver had managed to stop just in front of the disabled car the Sevillas had passed.
Trooper Thomas says he climbed over the median wall, not sure what he'd find, but determined to keep the driver from going any further.
"I leaned in, put the car in park, just to make sure she wouldn't go anywhere," he said.
The Sevillas say the driver was an elderly woman who was clearly shaken by the whole experience. She told them she was trying to find an exit, but was unable to.
Just another day for these two unflappable, traffic heroes who on this day had a special "work story" to share with their children when they got home that afternoon.