Wrong-way driver dies after crashing into produce truck - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Wrong-way driver dies after crashing into produce truck

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PHOENIX -

One of the busiest freeways in the valley was closed for hours Monday after a head-on crash near Anthem.

Authorities say a man drove for miles on Interstate 17 going south in the northbound lanes.  He died in the crash and two women barely escaped with their lives.

The man somehow got onto the northbound lanes near Black Canyon City and drove the wrong way -- all the way down to Anthem.  It all ended in a fiery head-on crash with a semi-truck.

Workers pulled debris off I-17 in the pre-dawn hours.

The Jeep Cherokee the wrong-way driver was in was barely recognizable.  The SUV's speed was at 70 miles per hour when he hit the produce truck, causing the semi to burst into flames.

"The produce truck was fully engulfed.  Fortunately, both the driver and passenger were able to jump out of the truck and get out of their burning wreckage," said Bart Graves of the Department of Public Safety.

The semi trailer is a burned out husk and the produce -- tons of charred lettuce sat on the side of I-17.

Small front loaders were brought in the clean up the mess.

What caused the driver to go the wrong way on a major freeway?

"We don't' know about impairment.  We're stumped on this one.. we are only going to let the medical examiner make that determination later on," said Graves.

Officers say this could have been much worse if it happened when more people were on the road.

The man's name was not released.

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