Phoenix — During the morning rush hour on July 18th, the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) received reports of a wrong-way red pickup truck traveling eastbound within the westbound traffic lanes of I-10 at milepost 158, near Elliot Road. Quick decision making, cohesive efforts, and teamwork by AZDPS troopers effectively stopped this wrong way driver.
An AZDPS sergeant on his morning commute observed the wrong-way pickup truck and immediately acted. Sergeant Matthew Kunda activated lights and sirens and began coordinating with troopers in the Arizona Department of Transportation Traffic Operations Center who effectively relayed the movements of the wrong way driver to responders in the field. As the pick-up truck transitioned wrong-way onto the eastbound Loop 202 San Tan freeway at about 50 mph, Trooper Jordan Stevens conducted a traffic break to slow down westbound traffic, while Sergeant Kunda deployed a police intervention technique with his unmarked sport utility patrol vehicle and effectively stopped the wrong-way driver.
The driver, 73-year-old Richard Elliott of Phoenix was booked on two counts of ARS 13-1201: felony endangerment. Impairment has not been ruled out.
“The quick actions of Sergeant Kunda, and the collaboration between troopers in the field and in the Traffic Operations Center, no doubt, saved lives today. Wrong way driving incidents are fast, dynamic, and extremely dangerous. Also, considering this incident occurred during morning rush hour traffic, the end result could’ve been deadly had it not been for the decisiveness and bravery of our AZDPS sergeant and Highway Patrol troopers,” said AZDPS Director, Colonel Frank Milstead.