DPS: Wrong-way driver arrested in Tempe

TEMPE, Ariz. (KSAZ) - A wrong-way driver was arrested in Tempe and police say the suspect got on the Loop 101 at Thomas Road, drove south in the northbound lanes, then exited at Baseline and drove several miles on surface streets before Department of Public Safety troopers were able to stop him.

Joaquin Gomez shows cellphone video showing DPS troopers and Tempe police surrounding a car on Baseline, just east of Mill Avenue early Wednesday morning.

"They had the door open on the white car," he said. "It was a little tense, like them trying to get the road closed down to stop traffic."

A short time before at 4:24 a.m., the vehicle was spotted heading southbound in the northbound lanes. According to DPS, 21-year-old Nelson Sapata from Glendale was behind the wheel.

DPS says he likely entered the highway at Thomas Road and exited at Baseline.

"The driver actually stopped, put his hands up in the air and then got back in his vehicle and left the scene from Chandler officers traveling westbound on Baseline into Tempe," said Carl Cooper, a spokesman with DPS.

It all finally came to a stop at Mill Avenue and Baseline Road. Troopers and Tempe police performed a pit maneuver to stop the suspect.

"I seen a white vehicle, it looked like the driver side... both doors were damaged," Gomez said.

DPS says the damage was probably a result of the pit maneuver.

Sapata was taken into custody at the scene. He's been booked into jail on charges of aggravated DUI, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, unlawful flight, and endangerment.

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