An Arizona Department of Transportation traffic camera shows the fiery scene of a head-on crash on May 12 that killed a driver and an off-duty Mesa police officer. (Source: Arizona Department of Transportation)
Ashley Adea & Michael Ruquet were killed Sunday morning (Source: Facebook)
Three people died when a wrong-way driver caused a head-on crash on southbound Interstate 17 on Friday morning. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Two people were killed when a pickup truck and a passenger vehicle collided in the eastbound lanes of Loop 202 San Tan Freeway just before 2 a.m. Sunday. (Source: CBS 5 News)
GILBERT, AZ (CBS5) -
Two were killed and several others injured in the third wrong-way traffic crash in six days, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.
DPS officials said Ashley Adea, 20, and Michael Ruquet, 25, both of Mesa, were traveling in the correct direction when their vehicle was struck by an oncoming truck.
Patricia Murphy, 68, of Chandler, was at the wheel of the truck driving the wrong way on Loop 202, according to DPS Officer Carrick Cook.
Cook said Murphy was in the truck with her 9-year-old grandson, who was a passenger. Both are expected to survive.
Since Monday, wrong-way crashes have killed seven people in accidents on U.S. 60, Interstate 17 and Loop 202.
The Governor's Office of Highway Safety called an emergency meeting on Sunday with DPS and the Arizona Department of Transportation. Members focused on enforcement, education and engineering issues in an effort to stem future incidents.
"The first thought that comes to mind is it's very tragic," said Ram Pendyala, a transportation systems professor at Arizona State University.
"From a transportation engineering perspective, there are a variety of things we try to do," he said.
Pendyala admitted it's very hard to stop an impaired driver from going the wrong direction on a roadway. However, one low-cost option would be to install concrete curbs which could prevent accidental entrances to highways.
"You could imagine a channelized island that would facilitate left turns and right turns. It would also have the advantage of preventing drivers from making an error prone left turn onto the exit ramp," explained Pendyala.
The latest accident occurred just after 1:30 a.m. Sunday in the eastbound traffic lanes of Loop 202 near Higley Road in Gilbert.
The driver of a pickup truck traveled the wrong way on Loop 202 for about 13 minutes before smashing into an oncoming car, said DPS spokesman Raul Garcia.
"At 1:35 a.m. DPS received the first 911 call," Garcia said.
The pickup truck entered Loop 202 at University and was traveling westbound within the eastbound traffic lanes.
"At 1:48 a.m., there was a report of a collision," Garcia said.
At least 10 separate 911 calls were received, DPS said.
The driver and a passenger in the car were killed. Two people in the pickup truck were injured. The driver of the pickup is in serious condition and the passenger is expected to be OK, Garcia said.
Authorities were trying to determine if impairment was a factor in the crash.
It's not known yet how fast the pickup truck was going.
DPS said Loop 202 between Higley Road and Williams Field is closed in both directions. The Arizona Department of Transportation is assisting DPS with the closure.
Police officers from Mesa and Gilbert joined DPS in the investigation.
Sunday morning's deadly crash was the third wrong-way driving accident since May 12.
On Monday, Mesa police Sgt. Brandon Mendoza was killed by a wrong-way driver as he drove home from his shift. The suspect, 42-year-old Raul Silva Corona, had been traveling in the wrong direction for about 30 minutes before the crash occurred.
On Friday, three people from Indonesia were killed and three passengers suffered serious injures in an Interstate 17 collision near Bumblebee Road after their minivan was struck by wrong-way driver's car.
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