Wrong-way driver ID’d; Among 5 who died in Arizona car crash

Authorities are trying to determine if a Cave Creek man was driving his pickup truck impaired without headlights on in a fiery crash that killed him and four people in an SUV last week.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officials said 37-year-old Michael Glen Sytsma was driving the wrong way on U.S. 60 when he struck an SUV head-on about 10:30 p.m. last Friday in Morristown, about 50 miles northwest of Phoenix.

They say Sytsma died in the crash while the SUV burst into flames and its four occupants haven’t been identified yet by the medical examiner.

A medical examiner will complete a toxicology report to see if impairment was a factor in the crash, according to the DPS.

DPS officials said they won’t release the names until all the bodies are positively identified. 

Juan Gutierrez witnessed the crash saying, "That could’ve been me if I didn’t react right away. That could’ve been me if I didn’t swerve to the next lane."

He was driving west on U.S. 60 when he encountered the white pickup truck going the wrong way. Gutierrez swerved and turned around while his passenger called 911. Minutes later, they came upon the fiery collision.

"We all ran down there to see what we can do, I got close to the truck, to the white pickup. I looked inside and he was already deceased. I smelled a lot of alcohol," he said, adding, "There was no yelling or screaming or anything, it was just silence."

The mother of 23-year-old Akayla Dorris-Cuthbertson says she was with her best friend, 25-year-old Jessica Harris, as they both died in the crash.

"Her friends are just devastated and lost without her because her and jessica were the glue for all her friends and it’s going to be hard to go on without that smile every day," says Peggy Dorris.

Akayla and Jessica picked up Jessica’s grandmother and a teenage relative in Phoenix and were driving back to the Kingman area when their SUV was struck.

Now, Akayla’s family wants change.

"This shouldn’t happen. There should be better signage or lighting to stop these people from driving the wrong way," Dorris said. Adding, "Something needs to be done so this can stop and no other parent has to go through this."

Although family identified two of the victims, the names of the others haven't been released.

'I was praying'

It was the phone call that broke Daniellelynn Rohrig's heart after she called 911 alerting authorities of an erratic driver who she says was swerving in and out of the lanes.

"There was like two times where I thought he was yanking the wheel so bad and bringing it back that I thought he was going to flip and he was doing this the whole way," Rohrig said.

She was driving home when she came across the wrong-way driver. She says at one point, he stopped in the middle of the highway and then pulled off where she was able to pass him safely. 

"I was praying and saying I hope this guy didn't cause an accident ... and sure enough I started seeing smoke flames and my heart ... loss of words," Rohrig said.

While Danielle didn't see the crash, she says, it had to happen moments after she passed. 

"I makes me so upset and I know that there's nothing that I could do but a part of me wishes that I would have got behind him and, you know, what could I have done different?" she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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