Victim, suspect identified in State Route 51 wrong-way crash

- Two people were killed in a wrong-way crash along a Phoenix freeway on Tuesday night.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, two people driving two separate vehicles were killed in the wrong-way crash along southbound State Route 51 near the Interstate 10 mini stack.

DPS first received reports of a wrong-way driver when a red vehicle was spotted driving the wrong way after leaving Sky Harbor International Airport at about 7:45 p.m. The red sedan then struck a white vehicle after exiting I-10 and driving in the wrong direction along State Route 51.

On Wednesday, DPS identified one of the drivers killed as 54-year-old Young Lee, of Phoenix. On Thursday, DPS identified the suspect of the crash as Ronald Wayne Mollenhauer, 56, of Peoria.

A third driver involved in the crash was transported to a nearby hospital with minor injuries.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has released a statement on recent wrong-way driving incidents in the Valley.

According to ADOT, southbound State Route 51 was reopened early Wednesday morning.

The investigation is ongoing by the DPS.


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Driver who saw wrong way driver speaks out

On Wednesday, Sara Teague, a nurse who was driving home from work Tuesday night, came face to face with the wrong way driver. As she was heading south on the State Route 51 ramp to the I-10, the driver was heading north, towards her.

"I was very worried when I saw him," said Teague. "When he passed and stayed to the side, I had enough room. I was shook up."

The fatal crash happened moments later.

"I just think of my patients and all my fellow nurses do." said Teague. "I am getting married in February, and I just, like, haven't felt this emotion until just now, talking about it. Just to think of all the families and loved ones involved. Those two people didn't get to go home to their families last night."

As of Wednesday, there are still many questions surrounding the fatal crash on Tuesday. DPS Director Frank Milstead said from what he has heard, there is video of the man driving erratically at Sky Harbor Airport. Milstead said there needs to be a major effort to get the word out that people should not drive drunk, distracted, impaired, and in the wrong direction.

Teague, who came so close to tragedy, agrees.

"I think something needs to happen. It is happening too often. It could be anyone. It really could."

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