Impaired wrong-way driver who hit motorcycle officer identified

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

MESA, Ariz. -- A Mesa motorcycle officer is recovering after an impaired wrong-way driver hit him.

It happened late Thursday night at Southern Avenue and Country Club Drive. The impact threw the officer from his motorcycle.

The driver who hit him, now identified as Jose Valdez, made a run for it.

Minutes before the crash, witnesses had reported a dark SUV swerving into oncoming traffic. They said the vehicle even hit a tree.

Police tried to stop the driver, but he kept going. He was heading the wrong way on Country Club Drive when he hit the motorcycle officer, pinning the bike under the SUV.

"Once the SUV became lodged on the motorcycle, obviously those officers focused their attention away from the suspect who was driving to providing aid to their fellow officer who was on the ground," Mesa Police Department spokesman Steve Berry said. "At that point, our suspect took off on foot and fled the scene."

Valdez did not get very far. Police arrested him a short distance from the scene. According to Berry, the 47-year-old showed signs of impairment.

"He was processed for DUI and preliminary breath test showed a .205 BAC," Berry said in an email to media outlets Friday morning. "Blood was drawn and submitted for an official finding."

Under Arizona DUI laws, which are among the toughest in the country, a person with a BAC of .08 is considered to be intoxicated. A BAC of .15 is considered extreme or aggravated DUI.

Valdez was booked on suspicion of endangerment, unlawful flight from law enforcement and leaving the scene of a wreck, all of which are felony charges. DUI charges could be added depending on the results of his blood test.

Investigators have not released any information about Valdez.

Berry said the officer, who has not been identified, suffered minor injuries and has already been released from the hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery.