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Mesa police officer, wrong-way driver die in fiery wreck

PHOENIX — A Mesa police officer and an unidentified driver were killed in a fiery wrong-way car accident early Monday morning in Tempe.

A Mesa Police spokesman said Officer Brandon Mendoza, 32, was on his way home around 12:30 a.m. when the accident occurred on westbound U.S. 60 and Interstate 10. The Department of Public Safety is investigating.

Family and friends of Mendoza gathered at the Maricopa Medical Center burn unit near 26th and Roosevelt streets in Phoenix, where the victims were taken.

Authorities said the wrong-way driver had been driving against traffic all the way back at the Loop 101 near Cactus Road and on State Route 51 before reaching I-10.

Several other drivers called DPS to report the wrong-way driving.

DPS had tried to ram the driver’s SUV while he was still on the Piestewa Freeway near Thomas Road but he managed to evade officers.

Mesa police released a statement, which in part read:

“We are saddened beyond words to report that one of our officers was hit and killed this morning by a wrong way driver. The officer had completed their shift and was on their way home.”