Wrong-way crash victims remain in critical condition

- Two men remain in critical condition after they were hit by a wrong-way driver on Tuesday near Loop 202 and Pecos Road.

The driver and passenger in the SUV traveling in the wrong direction died at the scene.

Now there's new information on the people involved in the crash.

This horrific collision killed two men and critically injured two more. 

Investigators are still trying to figure out why and how the wrong-way driver got onto the ramp. The driver left the Ahwatukee area, to Pecos Road, headed east on Loop 202 -- only he was on the westbound ramp.

The victims were entering the Ahwatukee area, traveling west on the ramp toward Pecos -- that's where the deadly collision occurred.

How did this happen? And this is happening way too often. That's what valley drivers and Department of Public Safety investigators are thinking a day after this deadly crash.

The two men in the right-of-way vehicle remain in critical condition at an area hospital. Co-workers identified the surviving victims as 21-year-old Brandon Gauna and 24-year-old Kyle Ruiz. Both are employees of Magic Pest Control, a family-owned business based out of Gilbert. Gauna and Ruiz underwent several surgeries.

The wrong-way driver was identified as 63-year-old Jeremiah Trotter and 28-year-old Bennett Vella was his passenger. The two were friends.

At the Ahwatukee intersection where Trotter would have entered the ramp, there are no signs above the westbound ramp that indicate drivers entering are going the wrong way.

DPS still has not ruled out impairment as a factor in this case.

"At least the length of the ramp was quite a distance and there were two people on board at the time," said DPS' Raul Garcia.

Trotter's family members say they are not sure why Trotter was driving his SUV in the wrong direction, but did speculate that he could've been confused. They say Trotter had a heart defibrillator implant, which at times could make him disoriented.

DPS says one way to prevent these deadly wrong way crashes is to prevent wrong way drivers from getting on the road in the first place.

"The primary issues being driver impairment, disorientation," said Garcia. "This comes down to behavior of the driver. It comes down to driver behavior and decisions that they're making."

Around 1,600 wrong-way incidents have been reported on valley highways so far this year. 29 of those crashes were deadly.

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