On Thursday, Nov. 11, at about 6:45 a.m., an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer stopped the driver of a 2009 Pontiac passenger vehicle for following too close. The vehicle pulled over and stopped on westbound Interstate 10 near Picacho Peak and asked to exit the car. During the stop, the driver, Joel O. Morando, 25, of Tucson, returned to his vehicle and fled from the officer. Morando drove his vehicle through the median and proceeded eastbound on I-10, with the officer in pursuit. Morando drove at a high rate of speed for about 30 miles before his vehicle struck a 2007 Toyota pickup, also traveling on eastbound I-10 near Marana. The collision caused both vehicles to run off the roadway and roll over onto the eastbound frontage road. The vehicles came to rest on the west side of the frontage road. The driver of the pickup truck, Ronald W. Papanikolas, 31, from Magna, Utah, was ejected onto the road and died as a result of his injuries. Morando was not ejected from his vehicle and sustained only minor injuries. DPS officers took him into custody. An investigation of the scene found marijuana inside Morondo’s vehicle. He was booked into the Pima County Adult Detention Center on charges of first-degree murder, felony endangerment, criminal damage and possession of marijuana for sale.
On Tuesday, Nov. 9, Oro Valley Police and Golder Ranch Fire personnel responded to Rancho Vistoso in response to a single-car collision. At the scene, they found Oro Valley resident Alice “Elli” Elliot, 84, trapped in the driver’s seat of her car. She had collided with a tree near the intersection of Rancho Vistoso Boulevard and Honeybee Trail. Golder Ranch Fire District officials removed Elliot from the car. She later was flown by Life Flight air ambulance to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead. No other cars were involved in the accident. The accident remains an open investigation.