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Arizona Department of Public Safety Investigates Officer involved Collision caused by a Wrong Way Driver

Officer’s quick action probably saved the lives of other drivers

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 -

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On June 9, 2010, at approximately 1:45 a.m. an Arizona Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol Officer was westbound on the loop 101 at 67th Avenue. The officer saw headlights coming toward him from a wrong way driver. Officer James Waltermire turned on his emergency lights and siren and initiated a zigzag maneuver to warn westbound drivers that a Ford F-150 pick up truck was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes. Moments later the pick up truck collided with Waltermire’s Ford Crown Victoria patrol car doing extensive damage to the left front driver’s side. At that point the left front tire came off the pick-up truck and collided with a brown suburban heading westbound on the Loop 101. No one was injured in the suburban.

The suspect driver continued driving on three wheels for about 300 yards eastbound in the westbound lanes. The vehicle came to a stop in the gore point at the westbound exit to the Loop 101 at 67th avenue. The suspect then fled on foot. DPS, Phoenix Police and Glendale Police set up a perimeter. The suspect was apprehended a short time later near a shopping center. Investigators believe the suspect was impaired at the time of the collision.

The suspect identified as Michael Chicharello, 31, of Phoenix, Ariz., was booked for Aggravated Assault, Endangerment and Leaving the Scene of an accident.

DPS Officer James Waltermire has been a patrolman for 5 years. “In my opinion the action taken by Officer Waltermire probably saved someone’s life on the Loop 101 this morning,” said DPS spokesman Sgt. Kevin Wood.



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The Arizona Department of Public Safety is a state-level law enforcement agency whose mission is to protect human life and property by enforcing state laws, deterring criminal activity and providing vital support to the State of Arizona and its citizens.