Wrong-way driver with alcohol content 3 times legal limit plows into DPS car

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Police say Michael Chicharello, 31, was behind the wheel of the wrong-way pickup truck that plowed into a DPS patrol car on Loop 101 near 67th Avenue Wednesday morning. By Catherine Holland Police say Michael Chicharello, 31, was behind the wheel of the wrong-way pickup truck that plowed into a DPS patrol car on Loop 101 near 67th Avenue Wednesday morning. By Catherine Holland
Officer James Waltermire By Jennifer Thomas Officer James Waltermire By Jennifer Thomas
Westbound Loop 101 was closed at 67th Avenue for hours Wednesday morning after a pickup truck driving the wrong way plowed into a Department of Public Safety Patrol car. By Catherine Holland Westbound Loop 101 was closed at 67th Avenue for hours Wednesday morning after a pickup truck driving the wrong way plowed into a Department of Public Safety Patrol car. By Catherine Holland
Westbound Loop 101 was closed at 67th Avenue for hours Wednesday morning after a pickup truck driving the wrong way plowed into a Department of Public Safety Patrol car. By Catherine Holland Westbound Loop 101 was closed at 67th Avenue for hours Wednesday morning after a pickup truck driving the wrong way plowed into a Department of Public Safety Patrol car. By Catherine Holland
Westbound Loop 101 was closed at 67th Avenue for hours Wednesday morning after a pickup truck driving the wrong way plowed into a Department of Public Safety Patrol car. By Catherine Holland Westbound Loop 101 was closed at 67th Avenue for hours Wednesday morning after a pickup truck driving the wrong way plowed into a Department of Public Safety Patrol car. By Catherine Holland

GLENDALE -- Westbound Loop 101 was closed at 67th Avenue for hours Wednesday morning after a pickup truck driving the wrong way plowed into a Department of Public Safety patrol car.

It happened shortly before 2 a.m.

The officer behind the wheel of the DPS car suffered only minor injuries and was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Officer James Waltermire was driving west on Loop 101 when he saw headlights coming at him. He turned on his lights and siren and started zigzagging across the freeway to get other drivers behind him to stop or slow down.

The wrong-way pickup truck hit the DPS car and kept going, coming to a stop about 100 yards from the collision.

The driver of the Ford F-150 bailed out and took off on foot, but was later taken into custody. He has been identified as Michael Chicharello, 31, of Phoenix. Investigators believe he was impaired.

Chicharello was booked for aggravated assault, endangerment, criminal damage and leaving the scene of an accident.

Authorities say he had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit at the time of the collision. A preliminary breathalyzer showed the suspect had a 0.252 blood-alcohol content level.

Video from the scene showed extensive damage to both vehicles. The pickup truck even lost a tire in the wreck, but that didn't stop the driver. The truck's tire hit a Suburban when it flew off. Nobody inside that Suburban was hurt.

"In my opinion the action taken by Officer Waltermire probably saved someone's life on the Loop 101 this morning," said DPS spokesman Sgt. Kevin Wood.

Wood said Waltermire has been a patrolman for five years.