Dispatcher dies after Phoenix crash with wrong-way driver

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PHOENIX (AP) -- A Phoenix Fire Department dispatcher died Tuesday after her vehicle collided with a Suburban that was going the wrong way on a freeway after evading an attempt by authorities to stop it, officials said.

The dispatcher, 26-year-old Megan Lange, was driving home from work when the early morning crash occurred. She died later at a hospital, the Fire Department said.

The collision closed a portion of Interstate 17 during much of the morning commute.

According to the Department of Public Safety, Stephen B. Martin, 39, was behind the wheel of that Suburban. Investigators believe he was impaired.

DPS said Tuesday evening that Martin was booked on one count of endangerment and several counts of aggravated assault. A charge of second-degree murder will likely be filed, as well.

This was the latest in a rash of wrong-way accidents on Phoenix-area freeways. A wrong-way driver and an off-duty Mesa police officer were killed in a May 12 wreck, and two people were killed May 18 when their car collided with a pickup truck going the wrong way.

Three people were killed in a May 16 crash on I-17 about 30 miles north of Phoenix when their minivan collided with a car going the wrong way.

In the crash Tuesday, the state Department of Public Safety said an officer saw a large SUV get on I-17 at the Glendale Avenue off-ramp and begin driving southbound in northbound lanes.

The officer tried to stop the wrong-way SUV about 1 a.m., but it swerved around the officer's vehicle and collided with two other vehicles, the one driven by Lange and a car driven by another woman, the DPS said.

The woman driving the car was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

"It's nonsense. It's sensless that Megan was taken from us so soon," says the victim's uncle and supervisor, Jim Frazier. "She was a wonderful person. She cared deeply about what she did. She loved her family, she loved her kids. There's going to be a huge gap that we are missing now that Megan is gone. Family is sticking together as you can see. We are very tightly bonded."

"On behalf of the Department of Public Safety, we are profoundly sorry for the family's loss and we will work with the county attorney to prosecute this person to the full length of the law," says Bart Graves of DPS.

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PHOENIX (AP) -- A Phoenix Fire Department dispatcher driving home from work was critically injured early Tuesday when her vehicle collided with an SUV going the wrong way on a freeway after evading an attempt by authorities to stop it, officials said.

The dispatcher, 26-year-old Megan Lange, was hospitalized in extremely critical condition, the Fire Department said.

The collision closed a portion of Interstate 17 during much of the morning commute.

It was the latest in a rash of wrong-way accidents on Phoenix-area freeways. A wrong-way driver and an off-duty Mesa police officer were killed in a May 12 wreck, and two people were killed May 18 when their car collided with a pickup truck going the wrong way.

Three people were killed in a May 16 on I-17 about 30 miles north of Phoenix when their minivan collided with a car going the wrong way.

The state Department of Public Safety said an officer saw a large SUV get on I-17 on the Glendale Avenue off-ramp and begin driving southbound in the northbound lanes. Authorities suspect alcohol impairment.

The officer tried to stop the wrong-way SUV about 1 a.m., but it swerved around the officer's vehicle and collided with two other vehicles, the one driven by Lange and a car driven by another woman, the agency said.

Lange suffered life-threatening injuries while the woman driving the car was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

The 39-year-old man driving the wrong-way SUV and his 38-year-old female passenger were taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries, the DPS said. Their identities were not released.

DPS said detectives were continuing their investigation.

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