DPS trooper injured in Phoenix after ramming into car to stop alleged wrong-way driver

The crash occurred on the westbound Loop 202 at 40th Street. The trooper performed a pit maneuver to stop Kelley McNaughton, 52, who was driving the wrong way.
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 5:37 AM MST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2023 at 4:55 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -– Investigators say an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper was injured after ramming a wrong-way driver’s car in Phoenix late Sunday night.

According to DPS, the crash occurred on the westbound Loop 202 at 40th Street around 11:30 p.m. Investigators said that a trooper tried to pull over 52-year-old Kelley McNaughton when she looped around and started driving the wrong way to lose the trooper. The trooper performed a pit maneuver where troopers tactically ram into a vehicle to stop the other driver, often in pursuits. Investigators say that when the trooper crashed into her car, McNaughton collided with another vehicle. She was taken into custody. The driver of the third vehicle wasn’t hurt.

“Our trooper put himself in danger,” said DPS Captain Keith Gephart. “It’s kind of a heroic thing, trooper decides in a split second.” Captain Gephart has been in the situation himself during his eight years on night watch, responding to hundreds of wrong-way calls. “There’s a lot of things going through your mind. You’re worried about what’s going to come around that corner, how quickly it’s going to come upon you; it’s a split-second decision you have to make.”

Court documents say small bags of methamphetamine and blue “M30″ pills were found as the trooper searched McNaughton’s car. During an interview with police, she reportedly admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the day but denied taking other drugs.

DPS made contact with 422 wrong-way drivers in 2022 compared to 430 in 2021. In 2022, 75 of those resulted in crashes, vast majority dealing with drugs or alcohol. “74% of the wrong-way collisions were impaired drivers,” said Captain Gephart. 14 people died from wrong-way crashes in 2020, 13 in 2020.

Police say McNaughton was booked on charges of assault, criminal damage, and drug offenses. Additional charges for DUI are pending. Authorities say the trooper was hospitalized as a precaution after suffering minor injuries. He is still recovering early Monday morning.