Survivor haunted by wrong-way crash

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Michael Moretti survived a wrong-way crash nearly a year ago and the memory still haunts him. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Michael Moretti survived a wrong-way crash nearly a year ago and the memory still haunts him. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Moretti was driving his Jeep southbound on the State Route 143 when he saw a car come straight for him. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Moretti was driving his Jeep southbound on the State Route 143 when he saw a car come straight for him. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The accused wrong-way driver is face six felony charges. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The accused wrong-way driver is face six felony charges. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Valley man has been paying attention to news of recent wrong-way driver crashes. That’s because Michael Moretti survived one almost a year ago, and the memory still haunts him.

Back on July 27, 2016, Moretti was driving his Jeep southbound on the State Route 143 near the University Drive exit when the car in front of him suddenly swerved to the side. When Moretti looked up ahead, he saw a car coming right at him.

“I was just gripping on the steering wheel as hard as I can," says Moretti. “I just closed my eyes and I thought it was over.”

Moretti says as he tried to turn out of the way, he wound up driving up and over the wrong-way car, hitting the median wall, and rolling his Jeep several times. Another driver stopped to pull him from his jeep, and Moretti wound up limping away with only a sprained ankle.

Charges were filed June 5, 2017, against the accused wrong-way driver, Gregg Leon Whitfield. According to the complaint, Whitfield has been ordered to appear on two counts of endangerment, one count of marijuana possession, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia and two counts of driving under the influence.

According to the court documents, Whitfield admitted to police that he had been smoking PCP and marijuana. 

“I kind of guess I forgive him now,” says Moretti. “It’s just people have to realize they’re driving a dangerous vehicle and he was reckless.”

Moretti believes technology can only go so far to protect drivers from a wrong-way crash. He says real prevention comes down to individuals making good decisions before getting behind the wheel.

Moretti is so haunted by the crash, he sometimes has a hard time on the road. It took him three months after the wreck before he felt comfortable enough to drive again.

“There's been a few times where I’ve had to pull over because I see tail lights, and I think it's a vehicle coming at me,” says Moretti. “I just pull over to the side of the road. It freaks me out because I feel like it's going to happen again.”

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


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