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Published: Thursday, 5/15/2014

Driver in Arizona crash that killed officer had blood-alcohol level 3 times legal limit


PHOENIX — A wrong-way driver who killed an off-duty police officer in a head-on collision on a Phoenix-area freeway had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit, authorities said today.

Officer Carrick Cook, an Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman, said Raul Silva Corona’s blood-alcohol content was 0.238 percent. A driver is presumed to be intoxicated in Arizona at 0.08 percent.

Corona, 42, collided with Mesa Police Officer Brandon Mendoza after driving 35 miles in the wrong direction on three freeways early Monday morning. At one point, a police officer had slowed traffic and tried to ram the SUV Corona was driving, but Corona swerved and continued on.

Mendoza, a 13-year veteran of the Mesa Police Department, was on his way home from work when he was killed.

Court records show that Corona pleaded guilty to a 1994 criminal conspiracy charge in Adams County, Colorado, and prosecutors dismissed charges of burglary, assault and leaving an accident scene. His sentence and more details about the charges against him weren’t available.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Corona was a native of Chihuahua, Mexico, who had entered the United States without permission.

Corona’s family members have said Corona had been drinking hours before the crash. Corona’s two sons have said the family had spent part of Sunday together and they tried to stop their father from drunken driving that day by taking his keys, but he grabbed a spare set and left several hours before the crash.

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