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'Heroic' DPS trooper stops wrong-way driver with calculated crash

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A Department of Public Safety troop is recovering after deliberately crashing into a wrong-way vehicle on State Route 87 near the Bush Highway Thursday afternoon. (Source: AZ Dept. of Public Safety) A Department of Public Safety troop is recovering after deliberately crashing into a wrong-way vehicle on State Route 87 near the Bush Highway Thursday afternoon. (Source: AZ Dept. of Public Safety)
(Source: AZ Dept. of Public Safety) (Source: AZ Dept. of Public Safety)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Department of Public Safety trooper is recovering after deliberately crashing into a wrong-way vehicle on State Route 87 near the Bush Highway Thursday afternoon.

When State Trooper Pedro Rodriguez heard the radio call about a pickup truck traveling south in the northbound lanes of S.R. 87, he did not hesitate to respond and do what he is trained to do -- protect people.

"Trooper Rodriguez encountered the wrong-way truck and intentionally collided his patrol vehicle with it, in a near head-on collision, in order to stop it," a DPS spokesman said in a news release.

The female behind the wheel of the full-size Dodge pickup tried to drive away, but Rodriguez hit the truck again, making sure the woman did not go anywhere.

Both Rodriguez, a 10-year DPS veteran, and the woman, whose name has not been released, were taken by ground ambulance to the hospital.

"The heroic actions taken by Trooper Rodriguez prevented innocent motorists from being injured or killed by this wrong-way driver," Col. Frank Milstead, the director of DPS, said. "This is the level of dedication that our troopers have in working to make Arizona's highways safe."

This is not the first time a DPS trooper has taken this kind of action, putting his life in danger to stop a wrong-way driver.

Last August, Trooper Jeremy Barr did just that, stopping a wrong-way driver on Interstate 17 about 12 miles north of Sunset Point.

READ: AZ state trooper 'puts his life on the line' in wrong-way crash (Aug. 22, 2015)

"Had he not done this, there is no doubt in my mind, somebody’s wife, somebody’s brother, somebody’s sister would have been killed by this wrong-way driver," Milstead said at the time the trooper’s actions were “the most heroic thing" he's ever seen in his law enforcement career.

This is the level of dedication that our troopers have in working to make Arizona's highways safe.

According to DPS, Barr has faced six wrong-way drivers in his career. He successfully stopped five of them. The August 2015 was the third time he had been in a collision with a wrong-way vehicle.

The suspect in that case was booked on suspicion of DUI.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a common cause of wrong-way driving incidents.

Although it's early in the investigation, impairment is suspected in Thursday's incident, as well.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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