On May 12, at 12:35 a.m., the Department of Public Safety (DPS) received several 911 calls regarding a SUV driving northbound in the southbound lanes of State Route 101 at Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard in Scottsdale. DPS Highway Patrol officers immediately responded to the area to intercept the wrong way driver.
The driver of the wrong way vehicle continued westbound in the eastbound lanes of State Route 101 and eventually took the ramp from the State Route 101 to State Route 51 south in the wrong direction. DPS Highway Patrol officers continuously monitored the incoming 911 calls and an officer was in a position to stop the SUV on the south end of State Route 51.
As the DPS Officer was slowing traffic northbound on State Route 51 at Thomas, he attempted to stop the oncoming wrong way vehicle. The SUV swerved around the DPS Officer and continued southbound in the northbound lanes of State Route 51. The SUV then entered Interstate 10 and began traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes. The SUV continued traveling along Interstate 10 in the wrong direction and it eventually entered the HOV ramp from westbound US 60 to Interstate 10 in Tempe. It was along the HOV flyover ramp that the SUV and its driver crashed head-on into a Volkswagen Passat being driven by Brandon Mendoza just before 1 a.m.
DPS investigators believe the wrong way driver may have been impaired at the time of the crash. An autopsy by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the identity of the driver and the level of drugs or alcohol, if any, that were in his body at the time of the crash.
Brandon Mendoza, 32, was employed as an Officer with the Mesa Police Department since 2001. Mendoza had just completed a shift and was on his way home at the time of the crash.
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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.