Wrong-way driver on Loop 101 arrested on suspicion of DUI

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Nina Milos (Source: DPS) Nina Milos (Source: DPS)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)

The Department of Public Safety suspects impairment was a factor in yet another incident involving a wrong-way driver.

It happened shortly after 2:30 a.m. Wednesday in the northbound lanes of Loop 101, coming to an end between McDowell and McKellips roads.

According to DPS, Nina Milos got on the freeway at Cactus Road and traveled for about 9 miles, hitting one vehicle along the way.

It could have been a head-on collision, but luckily the other driver swerved so that only the vehicles' side-view mirrors hit each other. That other driver was shaken but not injured.

"That's heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking because it really is something avoidable," said Mike McLaughlin, who said he witnessed the wrong-way driver while on his way home from work. "Especially with New Year's Eve coming up this weekend, please take an Uber, take a cab, take a Lyft." 

McLaughlin said he too had to swerve to avoid the wrong-way driver. He immediately called 911. 

DPS, the Salt River Police Department, the Phoenix Police Department and the helicopter from the Mesa Police Department all responded to the call and worked together to try and stop Milos.

LISTEN: Scanner traffic (Note: There are several stretches of silence)

It was not easy; she passed several DPS and police cruisers before troopers and officers were able to box her in and force her to pull over in an effort DPS Capt. Tim Mason described as "heroic."

Milos asked DPS troopers why they stopped her.

"It was interesting because the wrong-way driver had no idea where she was, why she was being contacted, nor did she have any recollection of the crash that occurred," Mason explained. "What makes it even worse for me is the fact that she traveled 9 miles the wrong direction. There were six police officers that she would pass head-on as they attempted to get her to stop. That endangers these police officers’ and these state troopers’ lives, not to mention the citizens that are just traveling this highway."

Milos, 23, of Phoenix, was arrested and faces a variety of charges, including DUI, aggravated assault, hit-and-run and seven counts of endangerment.

Mason said the Arizona Department of Transportation does "an unbelievable job" of warning drivers of immediate danger by putting messages on digital signs along the freeways and urges drivers to heed those warnings.

“We’re asking everybody [to] pay attention to those signs,” he said. “Because when you see a sign up that says, ‘Wrong-way driver ahead,’ you need to move to the right. You need to get out of that lane. I would exit the freeway and go several miles on surface streets. It’s safer.”

If you see a wrong-way driver coming toward you, slow down and move to the right.

“Get out of the way," Mason said. "We’re not asking people to take rapid immediate evasive action because we don’t want them to have a crash.”

He also advised drivers to stay out of the HOV and high-speed lanes after 11 p.m. if possible. He explained that wrong-way drivers tend to drift that way, which means the farther right you are, the safer you'll be.

As 2016 draws to a close, numbers from DPS show that Arizona has averaged more than two serious or deadly crashes caused by wrong-way drivers each month. There were 28 serious or deadly crashes this year. 

After the most recent fatal wrong-way crash, which happened Dec. 13 on the westbound Interstate 10 ramp to westbound Loop 202, DPS spokesman Raul Garcia said there have been more than 1,700 wrong-way incidents reported along highways. More that 100 drivers were arrested on suspicion of DUI.

[READ: Arizona averages more than 2 wrong-way crashes per month]

Garcia said, “In many instances, these people reorient themselves or get to where they were going and exit the highway.”

While not every wrong-way driver call for service reveals an actual wrong-way driver, troopers always respond promptly and treat each call very seriously. 

DPS would like to remind motorists to avoid distractions while driving so that you can better respond, or take evasive action if you encounter a hazard such as a wrong-way driver. Have a plan in mind to avoid a wrong-way vehicle so that if you encounter one, you will not waste a moment to take emergency evasive action that could save your life.

“Increase your chances of avoiding a wrong-way collision by staying right, staying aware and reporting wrong-way drivers immediately,” DPS Capt. Damon Cecil while talking about the statistics over the summer.

The high number of wrong-way crashes prompted ADOT to put up hundreds of oversized "wrong way" - and "do not enter" signs along freeway off-ramps in hopes of getting drivers' attention.

But it's not always enough, especially with the number impaired drivers out on the road.

[READ: Why spike strips won't stop Arizona's wrong-way crashes]

[READ: ADOT taking steps to reduce number of wrong-way crashes]

ADOT officials are now working on a Wrong Way Vehicle Detection System that would use existing sensors to alert authorities and other motorists that someone is going the wrong way.

 A prototype of the new technology is expected to be tested along Interstate 17 sometime next year, ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel said.

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

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

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Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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