TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Spike strips are supposed to give law enforcement a good way to stop dangerous drivers. But an innocent driver says DPS and spike strips put her and other drivers in danger.
When you’re driving, you have enough to worry about from other drivers but a Tucson woman says Arizona DPS did something that disabled her car and left her by the side of the road.
Kim Egita says on Saturday she was headed up I-10 to celebrate her mother’s birthday. She says near Casa Grande she saw other drivers hit their brakes as a DPS trooper crouched near the side of the road.
“And in a split second I went over whatever was in the road and realized something horrific happened. At that moment, putting two and two together, realizing my tire or later find out two tires are flat, trying to navigate my way off the freeway going 70-75 miles an hour with someone very close behind me, which I later realized was the suspect.”
She says that suspect was someone DPS was trying to stop using a spike strip. It plunges hollow spikes into a tire to let the air out and force a driver to stop. In a demo recording from a spike strip manufacturer, the officer pulls the strip back as soon as the right car hits the spikes. Kim Egita says the suspect kept going but she and several other drivers had to struggle to pull over without having a wreck.
“There was a woman in front of me who also had a flat tire. She was traveling with a friend who was further back going up to Phoenix who identified six other cars that she counted on the side of the road and I later learned this was a 31 mile pursuit that started about in Eloy or Picacho Peak.”
Egita feels by setting spike strips on a busy freeway DPS needlessly put innocent drivers at risk.
The agency’s own general orders on pursuits says in part: “All personnel involved in a pursuit shall continually evaluate the nature and seriousness of the offense(s) against the risk of initiating and continuing emergency vehicle operations and shall recognize the safety of the public is the primary concern.”
DPS troopers did come to check on her.
Egita says, “You know, it's just disappointing that the response from them was sorry, this happened. Glad you're okay.”
She says troopers did call a tow truck to take her car to a tire shop. But between tow truck fees and new tires Egita says she was out more than seven hundred dollars. She’s had to file with DPS to try to get that money back. There’s no getting back the fright of a flat at high speed, the hours required to get back on the road, or the birthday party for her mom.
Mid-afternoon Monday, KGUN 9, asked DPS to comment on this case and explain its spike strip policies. As of early evening Tuesday, we have not received any answers.