BLACK CANYON CITY, Ariz. — A 76-year-old Arizona man was arrested following a wrong-way wreck that killed a motorcyclist and closed a portion of a heavily traveled rural portion of Interstate 17, frightening other drivers and backing up holiday traffic, authorities said Wednesday.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety said Darroll Wayne Rogers of Black Canyon City was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of DUI and vehicular homicide.
According to the DPS, the incident involved several crashes on southbound I-17 about 40 miles north of Phoenix.
Chris Winterholler said his daughter yelled “look out” when she saw the wrong-way vehicle.
“Had she not called out I might not have been able to swerve and miss the guy,” Winterholler told KNXV-TV. “He did not veer or swerve or anything; it was really startling.”
The DPS said the wrong-way vehicle came to a stop when it hit a guardrail.
Another witness, Mary Kaplan, said the wrong-way driver seemed unfazed by the many cars swerving to avoid his red SUV.
“We’re like, ‘Oh my God, there’s a guy going the wrong way!’” Kaplan told KTVK-TV. “We were beeping the horn and screaming at him, and he was completely oblivious to what was going on.”
Verity Cross said her family’s vehicle swerved into a ditch to avoid a collision.
“We were just coming down the road, singing away, trying to pass the time to get home and we just had our lives passing before our eyes almost,” she said. “It all happened really fast.”
Arizona Department of Transportation officials said southbound traffic backed up for about 7 miles (11 kilometers) before those lanes reopened several hours later.
The DPS identified the dead motorcyclist as 50-year-old Cindy Lee Meade of Phoenix.
Rogers remained jailed Wednesday, and it’s not immediately known if he has an attorney who could comment on the allegations.