Wrong-Way Driver Arrested After Pursuit on State Route 101

Incident Status
Incident Date
Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Department Report Number

On Tuesday, August 29, 2023, at approximately 4:20 p.m., an Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) trooper was driving his fully marked patrol vehicle northbound on State Route 101 in the area of Chaparral Road. The trooper observed a vehicle being operated without a license plate and initiated a traffic stop on the driver. The driver of the vehicle, later identified as 52-year-old Adam Christopher Wanko, fled from the trooper and the trooper initiated a pursuit.

The pursuit lasted for approximately one mile on northbound State Route 101, during which time Wanko made an active effort to evade the trooper, cutting across the gore point, traveling across all lanes of traffic, and braking abruptly, at one point nearly causing a collision with the trooper.

In an effort to end the pursuit and the perceived risk to the motoring public, the trooper found the safest opportunity to conduct a precision intervention technique (PIT) maneuver on the suspect vehicle. The PIT maneuver was successful, bringing the suspect vehicle to a complete stop. Wanko then deliberately drove in circles, accelerated, and once again fled from the trooper. Wanko intentionally drove the wrong way, traveling southbound in the northbound traffic lanes, endangering the lives of every other motorist on the roadway. Recognizing the risk Wanko created, the trooper made the split-second decision to continue the pursuit in an attempt to stop Wanko's dangerous and erratic behavior.

After traveling the wrong way for approximately one mile, the suspect vehicle was involved in a collision with five other vehicles. Wanko and a passenger in his vehicle sustained injuries, and four people in other vehicles reported minor injuries including muscle soreness, abrasions and lacerations. All patients were treated and released at local hospitals for their injuries.

Wanko was booked into the Maricopa County Jail. Wanko faces charges including:

  • ARS 28-622.01 Unlawful Flight from a Law Enforcement Vehicle, Class 5 Felony - 1 Count
  • ARS 13-1201A Endangerment, Class 6 Felony - 5 Counts
  • Two outstanding felony warrants


A passenger in the suspect vehicle was released without charges.

This is an ongoing criminal investigation.

Adam Christopher Wanko, 09-12-1970