Wasted Wrong-Way Driver Gets Five Years in Prison For Crashing Into Cop Car

A Phoenix man who drunkenly crashed into a Department of Public Safety patrol car while driving the wrong way on the westbound Loop 101 last year was in a Maricopa County Superior Court this morning, where he was sentenced to five years in prison.

Michael Chicharello, 31, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for the wreck, which left DPS Officer James Waltermire injured.

About 2 a.m. on June 9, Waltermire was driving on the westbound Loop 101 in Glendale when he noticed headlights coming at him. He turned on his lights and siren and started zigzagging across the highway to get other drivers behind him to stop or slow down.

Waltermire prevented the pickup truck -- driven by Chicharello -- from hitting any other cars, but his DPS patrol car wasn't so lucky.

Chicharello smashed the truck into Waltemire's squad car and tried to keep on driving.

As a result of the crash, one of the wheels on Chicharello's truck flew off the vehicle and hit another car. He continued to drive on three wheels until the truck came to a stop about 300 yards from where the wreck had occurred.

Chicharello tried to flee on foot, but a police helicopter spotted him shirtless, out of breath, and trying to flag down traffic nearby.

When he was arrested, Chicharello's blood-alcohol content was .252, more then three times the legal limit. He also, apparently, had no idea where he was -- while standing directly under a 67th Avenue street sign, Chicarello told cops he was almost at this house, which was more than 100 blocks away at 40th Street.

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James King
Contact: James King