3 wrong-way drivers arrested over weekend, DPS credits thermal cameras for helping bust suspects

Three wrong-way drivers arrested on Sunday
Posted at 4:43 PM, Sep 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-12 17:14:38-04

Three wrong-way drivers, all suspected of getting behind the wheel while under the influence, were arrested early Sunday morning by officials, with one of the incidents being detected by thermal cameras installed on the freeway. 

A fourth incident, also captured on the newly-developed cameras, was also reported Monday morning.

Incident #1

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, around 3:17 a.m., a westbound vehicle entered the eastbound Loop 101 freeway via the 75th Avenue off-ramp. Thermal cameras detected the vehicle and set off an alert to the Arizona Department of Transportation, which activated warnings on overhead message boards in the area. 

A trooper witnessed the vehicle traveling southbound in the northbound lanes of the 101 near Union Hills Drive moments later.  

Troopers, with their lights and sirens on, were directed to the vehicle, which was then traveling southbound near Bell Road, and a trooper was able to position her vehicle to force the wrong-way vehicle to move over to the shoulder of the road. 

Troopers took 56-year-old Pierre Mbuyi Kabanda of Phoenix into custody and arrested him on suspicion of DUI and endangerment.

Watch video of the incident in the player above.

Incident #2

Around 2:11 a.m. on Sunday morning, a trooper was dispatched to Interstate 8 near Araby Road in Yuma after reports of a motorcycle traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes. 

The motorcycle was located on the emergency shoulder facing the wrong direction. 

DPS said they arrested 29-year-old Tinashe Ngwenya of Yuma for DUI. 

Incident #3

Shortly before 1 a.m., a vehicle left a convenience store near Loop 101 and Southern Avenue. A trooper witnessed the vehicle traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes of Southern Avenue. 

The driver only made it a quarter of a mile traveling in the wrong direction before it was stopped. 

Troopers took 31-year-old Kaelon Marquise Jolivette of Scottsdale into custody and arrested him for aggravated DUI. 

Monday incident 

ADOT said a thermal camera detected another vehicle early Monday morning traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes of Bell Road, then making a wrong-way turn to the northbound Loop 101 off-ramp. 

ADOT said DPS was alerted of the detection, but the vehicle was not located. 

The thermal camera showed the driver turning around on the ramp and returning back to Bell Road. 

Watch video of the incident in the player above.

ADOT said the thermal cameras were being tested as they move forward with fully installing a wrong-way detection and warning system, which is slated to function along a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 17 and should be operational by early next year, they said. 

At the moment, there are thermal cameras installed at 11 freeway interchanges in order to test the detection capabilities of the system for vehicles entering off-ramps in the wrong direction. 

They said the system will also have warning signs for wrong-way drivers, and advisories for right-way drivers. It will also have freeway cameras focused on the wrong-way vehicle; additionally, alerts will be sent to troopers in hopes of catching up with the wrong-way vehicles faster.