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Arizona driver sentenced to 24 years for fatal I-17 wrong-way crash

(Coconino County Sheriff's Office Photo; ADOT Photo)

PHOENIX – An Arizona man whose wrong-way driving on Interstate 17 caused the deaths of four people has been sentenced to 24 years in prison.

The Casa Grande Dispatch reported that 21-year-old Carlos Quinonez was convicted in Coconino County Superior Court of negligent homicide, endangerment, criminal damage and misdemeanor driving under the influence.

Quinonez was convicted in September for the summertime 2017 wreck near Munds Park, south of Flagstaff.

The newspaper said court records indicated that Quinonez was sentenced in October.

Quinonez, of Casa Grande, was driving a Jeep northbound in southbound lanes around 4 a.m. on Aug. 18, 2017.

He crashed into a sedan headed for the Grand Canyon. All four Californians in the car were pronounced dead at the scene. Quinonez was taken to a hospital.

The victims were identified as Christen Ebert, 26 and Richard Chum, 30, from Stockton; Gary Sindhu, 29, from Lodi; and Kouang Saefong, 30, from San Francisco.

Original charges included manslaughter.

From Jan. 1 to shortly before Christmas of 2017, the Arizona Department of Public Safety had logged 1,721 wrong-ways.

By June, the Arizona Department of Transportation announced it approved a multimillion-dollar thermal-imaging detection system for a 15-mile stretch of the freeway. The system was designed to automatically alert law enforcement to wrong-way drivers.

In September 2018, the system earned a Government Innovation Award from information technology industry magazine GCN.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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