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Off-duty DPS troopers describe stopping Valley wrong-way driver

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Off-duty Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers Thomas and Vanessa Sevilla were driving on State Route 101 in Glendale on Friday when they spotted something off.

A vehicle was driving the wrong way on the highway, barreling southbound down the northbound shoulder.

While Vanessa called in the incident, Thomas, who was driving, exited the freeway so they could turn around and follow the vehicle on the other side of the road.

“We were extremely shocked,” Vanessa told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday. “I grabbed my phone and called our dispatch to let them know we had a wrong-way driver going southbound in the northbound lanes.”

DPS said it received several calls about the vehicle — a white car operated by an elderly woman — but it was the Sevillas who sprung into action.

They tailed the wrong-way driver until she stopped near Indian School Road. Thomas then exited the car and approached the woman, who he said was “visibly scared.”

“I got out of the vehicle, jumped over the wall and started knocking on her window,” Thomas said. “She looked at me, acknowledged me and rolled down the window.

“When she did that, I leaned forward into her vehicle just to put her vehicle into park because it was still in drive.”

DPS decided not to cite the woman, who was uninjured.

It wasn’t Thomas’ first interaction with a wrong-way driver.

In general, Arizona has seen plenty of wrong-way drivers in 2019.

DPS said last week they had responded to 42 wrong-way driver collisions this year. Seven of the crashes involved fatalities, with 17 deaths.

Also, 101 wrong-way drivers had been arrested for DUI in 2019.

“Luckily, the wrong-way driver was able to come to a complete stop with no collisions or anything,” Thomas said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup contributed to this report.

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