Witness describes aftermath of latest deadly wrong-way crash

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by Natalie Brand

azfamily.com

Posted on May 19, 2014 at 10:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 21 at 11:30 AM

PHOENIX -- Karen Frederick who witnessed the latest deadly crash involving a wrong way driver told 3TV if it had happened two minutes later, it could have been her car hit.

Instead, the collision killed a young couple, Michael Ruquet, 25, and Ashley Adea, 20.

“It was awful,” said Frederick. “My heart breaks for them.”

The driver who hit them, 68-year-old Patricia Murphy, had her nine-year-old grandson in the car at the time.

Frederick, who works as a medical assistant, walked out of the car to see if she could help.

“There was a little boy sitting on the curb, and so I walked up,” said Frederick.  “I noticed he had blood on his face.”

“My heart breaks for the little boy; the police officer came up and said ‘why was your grandma driving the wrong way?’”

DPS is still investigating whether impairment was a factor in this latest wrong way driving crash. A total of three in less than a week’s time has killed seven people, including Mesa Police Sgt. Brandon Mendoza.

DPS and ADOT officials held an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss a safety plan. A spokesman says they’re focusing on the “3 E’s,” including enforcement, engineering and educating.

Enforcement pertains to continuing to remove impaired drivers from the road.  Engineering encompasses studying freeway on and off ramp configuration and figuring out ways to better detect and intercept wrong way drivers. Lastly, education relates to raising awareness among drivers on how to better handle encounters with wrong way drivers.

“It has to stop,” said Frederick. “I don’t know if there’s a way to do an amber alert cut through to alert other drivers…there weren’t any billboards that we saw.”
 

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