DPS trooper forced to medically retire after wrong-way crash, recounts 2015 incident

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Jeremy Barr broke his neck and back, and medically retired from DPS five years early after he stopped a wrong-way driver using his SUV. (Source: DPS and 3TV/CBS 5) Jeremy Barr broke his neck and back, and medically retired from DPS five years early after he stopped a wrong-way driver using his SUV. (Source: DPS and 3TV/CBS 5)
Jeremy Barr broke his neck and back, and medically retired from DPS five years early after he stopped a wrong-way driver using his SUV. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Jeremy Barr broke his neck and back, and medically retired from DPS five years early after he stopped a wrong-way driver using his SUV. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
In August of 2015, Barr, an Arizona DPS state trooper at the time, crashed into a man going the wrong way on the I-17 near Cordes Junction. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) In August of 2015, Barr, an Arizona DPS state trooper at the time, crashed into a man going the wrong way on the I-17 near Cordes Junction. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Barr said the wrong-way driver had already passed 11 vehicles. He decided he was going to have to use his SUV to stop him. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Barr said the wrong-way driver had already passed 11 vehicles. He decided he was going to have to use his SUV to stop him. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

One retired state trooper knows firsthand the destruction wrong-way crashes can cause.

"It literally puts a pit in my stomach because it's so senseless," said Jeremy Barr, who now lives in Texas.

In August of 2015, Barr, an Arizona DPS state trooper at the time, crashed into a man going the wrong way on the I-17 near Cordes Junction.

[RELATED: DPS identifies wrong-way driver stopped by trooper]

"I was coming from the north, he was coming from the south, so we were on a collision course closing in on each other," Barr said.

Barr said the wrong-way driver had already passed 11 vehicles. He decided he was going to have to use his SUV to stop him.

[WATCH: Surveillance video released showing wrong-way driver at Sky Harbor]

"It was just a matter of time. He had missed so many cars previously that luck was not going to continue. He was going to hit somebody," Barr said.

The wrong-way driver was going 70 miles per hour, Barr said. Barr was going 50 miles per hour.

"It was pretty violent. It threw me against the driver's door even with my seat belt on. The air bag deployed and caught me," he said.

Barr broke his neck and back, and medically retired from DPS five years early.

[RELATED: DPS: 2 people dead after wrong-way crash at the Mini-Stack]

"Every morning, I start my morning, I have a whole regimen to get moving. My back and neck are so tight I have to get on a heating pad for 45 minutes just to loosen those muscles up," he said.

"How much risk am I willing to put my troopers in?" DPS director Col. Frank Milstead asked Wednesday. He recalled Barr's actions, asking, once a wrong-way driver is detected, what does law enforcement do?

[RELATED: Witness sees wrong-way driver before fatal crash]

"He probably saved a number of lives that day, but it cost him his career and some mobility," Milstead said. "So, these are huge problems to resolve and there's no panacea. No easy answer for any of it."

Still, Barr said if he got a chance to do it all over again, he wouldn't change a thing.

"I'm blessed to be alive, but I'm thankful I get every day with my family," Barr said. "It's now extra, they're all extra days at this point."

The driver in that case was arrested and charged with assault and DUI, among other charges.

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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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