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Wrong-way driver arrested after crash on Phoenix freeway

(Facebook Photo)

PHOENIX — A wrong-way driver was arrested late Tuesday night after allegedly slamming into another car on a Phoenix freeway, officials said.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety said 70-year-old Joel Orris Lerbakken was driving the wrong way in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 near Riggs Road when he hit the other driver about 11:30 p.m.

Both Lerbakken and the other driver sustained minor injuries. Neither were hospitalized.

Lerbakken, a Sun Lakes resident, was charged with DUI and criminal damage.

The name of the victim was not released.

The freeway was closed periodically during the investigation but was reopened before the morning commute.

Last week, the Arizona Department of Transportation said it would soon install and test thermal cameras designed to alert officials to wrong-way drivers.

The cameras will be put into place along a stretch of Interstate 17, “between [Interstate] 10 at the stack exchange up to Loop 101 in North Phoenix,” ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel said.

The cameras should be in place by November at the latest.

Department of Public Safety officials said Friday there have been at least 956 reported incidents involving wrong-way drivers so far in 2017. More than 80 percent of the drivers are impaired, they said.

Wrong-way drivers have killed at least eight deaths in Arizona this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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