Wrong-way driver who hit car head-on identified; mom, teen daughter badly hurt


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Gina Maravilla

Posted on March 11, 2013 at 6:23 AM

Updated Saturday, Mar 16 at 7:36 AM

Map: I-17 and Dixileta, Jomax

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PHOENIX -- A mother and daughter were badly injured when a Jeep Wrangler traveling the wrong way on the freeway plowed head-on into their car early Monday morning.

It happened at about 3:30 a.m. in the southbound HOV lane of Interstate 17 at Dixileta Drive.

A woman believed to be in her 40s and her 13-year-old daughter were in the Nisaan Versa that was hit. Both suffered serious, possibly life-threatening injuries, and were taken to John C. Lincoln Hospital. The mother has already undergone surgery for severe head inuries.

It's not clear if the were wearing seat belts.

"The driver of the Jeep sustained relatively minor injuries," DPS Sgt. Paul Forch said.

That driver has since been identified as Johnny Bonnie, 41, of Phoenix.

Detectives do not know why the Jeep was heading north in the southbound lane, but say Bonnie had likely been driving the wrong way for at least a mile.

"We strongly suspect impairment," DPS spokesman Bart Graves said in a follow-up email to media outlets. "He was booked on two counts of aggravated assault and criminal damage."

"It was a tremendous crash," Forch said. "You look at the vehicles are you're amazed that anybody survived at all."

The wreck and investigation were blocking the HOV lane, as well as the two left lanes. Southbound I -17 was restricted to one lane from Dixileta Drive to just north of Jomax Road for several hours.

The wreck has since been cleared and the blocked lanes re-opened.