ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – New Mexico State Police released video Monday of a driver going the wrong way on Interstate 25 for miles, before being shot by police. Police said when they finally got him to stop, the man had no idea where he was.
The video shows a terrifying situation for those on the highway that night, as the man’s vehicle passed dozens of drivers, including a bus and semi at high speeds going the wrong direction.
Frantic drivers called into 911 the night of January 4th just before 11 p.m. “There’s a vehicle traveling the wrong way on the highway,” said one caller. “He’s gonna kill somebody.”
Dash cam video from State Police officer Jonathan Wright’s patrol car shows him catch up to a wrong-way driver on I-25 south of Las Vegas.
The white van passes nearly 30 vehicles going northbound in the southbound lanes as some cars pull over.
Officer Wright uses his PA system to try and get the driver to stop. “Pull the vehicle over, sir pull the vehicle over!” he’s heard on video shouting.
But the 72-year-old driver, Albert Urban, nearly 2,000 miles away from his home in New York, doesn’t stop.
“He has not touched his brakes,” the officer is heard saying.
“If he goes head on with a vehicle at those speeds, the chances of causing death to innocent people on the road is tremendous,” explained Sergeant Damyan Brown, of New Mexico State Police.
Officer Wright stays behind Urban’s van as other officers deploy stop sticks, but the first attempt misses.
Urban continues past vehicles at high speeds, including a large passenger bus and a semi. “Go ahead and stop traffic if you can,” an officer commands other responding officers on radio. But several drivers remain directly in the path of the high-speed chase.
A second spike strip flattened the van’s front right tire, but Urban keeps going. “Sarge, I need permission to PIT, we’re going about 40,” said officer Wright.
Video shows officer Wright approach the van, then hit Urban’s van to try and get him to stop. As the van spins, police said Urban continued forward hitting a patrol car, then drove toward officers.
Officer Wright fired multiple shots at Urban, hitting him in the arm. After about 17 miles, the chase was over.
Urban was taken to the hospital and survived. Police said Urban had no idea where he was, adding they later learned he suffered from Alzheimer’s.
San Miguel County District Attorney Richard Flores deemed the shooting justified, and said the officer actually helped save lives in this case.
Because of his condition, Flores said Urban is not competent to stand trial, so he is not facing charges. Flores added Urban was sent home to New York.
“We were obviously concerned about Mr. Urbans’ safety and welfare and also determined to assure that his family firmly understood that his driving days were over,” said Flores in a press release.