Map: Loop 202 Santan & Alma School
Loop 202 Santan & Val Vista
GILBERT, Ariz. – Officers with the Department of Public Safety averted a disaster in the making when they safely stopped a wrong-way driver on the Loop 202 Santan Freeway early Thursday morning.
The first 911 call related to the incident came in at about 3:40 a.m. The caller reported a woman either asleep or passed out at the wheel of a car stopped at Alma School Road and the Santan Freeway.
"The 911 caller said that the intersection's traffic lights had cycled twice with no reaction from the driver," DPS spokesman Raul Garcia said in a news release.
That driver, identified as Shawna Ray Bedonie, 24, of Indian Wells, reportedly ran a red light just moments later, getting on the freeway going east in the westbound lanes.
A DPS officer spotted Bedonie coming at him and coordinated with other officers to stop her.
As one officer in an unmarked vehicle performed a traffic break near Val Vista Drive, another deployed stop sticks, which deflated one of Bedonie's front tires.
Despite the flat tire, Bedonie did not stop right away.
"The wrong way vehicle finally stopped just before going head-on with the DPS detective and stopped traffic at Val Vista," Garcia said.
According to DPS, Bedonie went about 5.5 miles the wrong way. Officers say it was less than 10 minutes between the first 911 call and when they stopped Bedonie.
Still, that is long enough for anything to happen.
“[D]epending on how fast they’re traveling, this time of the day when traffic is starting to pick up, it definitely increases the chance of a fatal crash,” DPS Officer Justin Doucet said. “Luckily for us, we were in the area, so we were able to get in front of them and get them stopped as quickly as possible.”
Officers arrested Bedonie. She was booked on suspicion of DUI.
There have been a number of wrecks involving wrong-way drivers in recent months. Most of those crashes resulted in fatalities.