DPS: 2 wrong-way drivers on State Route 51 arrested

Posted: Updated:
Christopher Farruggio, 33 (left) and Abdullah Halamiah, 29 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Christopher Farruggio, 33 (left) and Abdullah Halamiah, 29 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Two drivers were stopped after going the wrong way on the State Route 51 early Wednesday morning, according to the Arizona Dept. of Public Safety.

The northbound lanes of SR-51 were closed at Northern Avenue until approximately 5 a.m.

The first wrong-way driver entered SR-51 at Northern Avenue at 2:41, going southbound in the northbound lanes, according to Trooper Kameron Lee with the Arizona Dept. of Public Safety.

That driver then made a U-turn and drove back up to Northern Avenue and exited the freeway. A trooper located the vehicle and the driver was arrested for allegedly being impaired by alcohol or drugs.

He has been identified as 29-year-old Abdullah Halamiah.

[Booking photo for Abdullah Halamiah]

Trooper Lee said Halamiah is facing a DUI charge and could face additional charges.

The second wrong-way driver was in a white pickup truck. That driver's wrong-way journey began at 3:00 by going at a high speed westbound in the eastbound lanes of the Loop 101 at 64th Street, Trooper Lee said.

He then took State Route 51, going southbound in the northbound lanes.

[Google Map: State Route 51 and Northern Avenue]

A DPS trooper stopped the truck on SR 51 near 32nd Street where there was a collision between the pickup truck and a trooper's SUV.

"Our trooper attempted to intercept the wrong-way driver who had been driving in the HOV lane," Trooper Lee said in an email. "As the suspected wrong-way driver approached our trooper’s location, he attempted to go around our trooper’s vehicle. Our trooper shifted his vehicle into reverse and the wrong way vehicle struck our trooper’s vehicle on the passenger side causing a T-bone collision."

Troopers arrested the driver of the pickup truck.

He has been identified as 33-year-old Christopher Farruggio.

[Booking photo fpr Christopher Farruggio]

Farruggio is facing DUI, aggravated assault and endangerment charges.

The epidemic of wrong-way drivers is a serious threat on Valley freeways.

"It's always a concern," said Sgt. Robert Phillips with the Arizona Dept. of Public Safety." In the morning too there's folks that are coming to work that just got out of bed they're coming to work or there's folks that are going home and they're sleepy and you know they're just trying to get home and trying to get work so you just always have to be cautious of what's out here on the roadway."

Investigators do believe the incidents on Wednesday morning are unrelated.

"We don't know what his intentions are and you know that's like a speeding bullet coming down the roadway so we have to get him stopped for the motoring public out here because they're not aware," said Sgt. Phillips. "We can put the sign boards up and everything but they're not aware of it so we have our due diligence to get him stopped."

Nobody was hurt.

The pickup truck was in the HOV lane.

Troopers say wrong-way drivers often travel in the HOV or left lane thinking they are in the right lane of the freeway and drivers should stay out of the HOV and left lanes whenever possible.

[Special section: Wrong-way drivers]

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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