FLAGSTAFF (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Arizona Department of Safety on Friday released dash-cam video showing a wrong-way driver plowing into the vehicle of one of its sergeants.
It happened the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 17 on Interstate 40 near Flagstaff.
[ORIGINAL STORY: DPS sergeant injured in collision with wrong-way driver near Flagstaff]
The video is from the vehicle of a witness who pulled off the road as the DPS sergeant, whose name has not been released, conducted a traffic break to keep other drivers safe.
DPS says the sergeant responded after the agency “began receiving calls reporting a reckless driver in a Nissan Rogue traveling on the sidewalk and nearly striking several vehicles along Milton Road in Flagstaff.”
A trooper tried to pull the vehicle over, but the driver took off, heading east in the westbound lanes of I-40.
That when the sergeant stepped in.
The video shows the sergeant swerving his vehicle across I-40 to get other drivers to pull out of the way.
“Immediately after the vehicles came to a stop for the traffic break, the wrong-way driver struck the sergeant’s stopped patrol vehicle head-on,” according to DPS. “The sergeant’s swift actions prevented a high-speed collision between the motorists and the wrong-way vehicle.”
The driver of the Rogue, later identified as Patricia Rose Carvalho, 32 of Los Ranchos, NM, left the scene. DPS later determined that she was impaired while driving, but investigators have not released any details.
DPS also said she had her 2-year-old daughter in the back seat. While Carvalho was injured, her daughter was not. The Arizona Department of Child Services took custody of the little girl.
Carvalho is now facing charges of attempted second-degree homicide, aggravated assault, endangerment, aggravated DUI and child abuse. It’s not clear if Carvalho has a history of DUI.
The DPS sergeant also suffered "minor injuries."
“The video taken by another motorist, whose life may have been saved by the actions of this heroic sergeant, tells the true story of what happened," Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said in a news release. "Sadly, it’s a stark reminder of the risks that impaired drivers pose to the public and to our troopers, who selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to stop them.”
This is not the first time DPS personnel have taken such an action to stop a wrong-way driver.
In October, a trooper intentionally hit a wrong-way vehicle near Tucson.
According to DPS, he used the front left corner of his patrol SUV to intentionally hit the front left corner of the wrong-way car, stopping the driver.
The issue of wrong-way drivers in Arizona has been the subject of much discussion in recent years, with various agencies looking for ways to curtail the problem.
The Arizona Department of Public Transportation implemented a detection system along a 15-mile section of Interstate 17 earlier this year. The early warning system, which uses 90 thermal cameras, is the first of its kind in the U.S. and won a national award for innovation.
With the system's success on I-17, ADOT said it is planning to install it along the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway. It should be operational in late 2019.
ADOT also said it's looking into adding thermal cameras to other Valley freeways.
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