The Department of Public Safety identified a wrong-way driver Wednesday who was taken into custody after triggering six crashes on Interstate 17 that left one person dead and backed up traffic on the Fourth of July for miles.
Darroll Wayne Roberts, 76, barreled up the wrong side of the freeway Tuesday afternoon in a red Chevy SUV at a high rate of speed for approximately 2 miles, the department said.
One of the ensuing crashes killed a woman riding a motorcycle. She was identified as 50-year-old Cindy Lee Meade.
Roberts was booked into Yavapai County Jail on charges of DUI and vehicular homicide.
According to court documents obtained by 3TV/CBS 5, Roberts voluntarily provided a breath sample on scene and his initial blood alcohol level was .20. Arizona law classifies a blood alcohol content level of .20 and higher as a 'super extreme DUI'.
[Arizona law: (ARS 28-1382)]
A later test showed Roberts' blood alcohol content at .16, which is still in the range for an extreme DUI according to Arizona law. He is being held at Yavapai County Jail on a $250,000 bond.
[MUGSHOT: Darroll Wayne Roberts]
Two witnesses said he appeared to be unfazed by the many cars swerving to avoid him.
“We're like, ‘Oh my God, there's a guy going the wrong way!’” Mary Kaplan recalled. “We were beeping the horn and screaming at him, and he was completely oblivious to what was going on.”
Kaplan said she missed hitting the SUV by about “6 inches.”
“I was looking at his face and he was looking ahead like it was a typical day,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan quickly alerted 911 as more cars swerved in her rear view mirror.
At the same time, Verity Cross, her husband and their 5-year-old son were heading home from a weekend getaway for the Fourth of July. They swerved into a ditch to avoid a collision.
“We were just coming down the road, singing away, trying to pass the time to get home and we just had our lives passing before our eyes almost,” she said. “It all happened really fast.”
Roberts traveled about 2 miles before crashing, from milepost 242 until milepost 244, according to DPS Trooper Kameron Lee. Investigators said early on they believe impairment was a factor.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety closed the southbound lanes of I-17 at Black Canyon City shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday while investigating the collisions. DPS reopened the lanes around 7:45 p.m.
[SPECIAL SECTION: Wrong-way drivers]
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