There is nothing unusual about seeing a roadside memorial, but this memorial and its context took on some meaning when I saw a YouTube video (details below) that shows how the driver died. Watching the video reminded me how fleeting life can be. It is sobering.
The cross marks the location of Steven Del Rio's black SUV when he died after a lengthy police pursuit in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The pavement is the beginning of the eastbound entrance ramp at I-10 Exit 155 (Baseline Road). The ramp points to the south, but the general direction of I-10 is eastbound. This is at the northeast end of South Mountain (visible in the distance), in the Guadalupe section of western Tempe.
On September 6, 2016, Del Rio and accomplices robbed a bank in Avondale (west of Phoenix). They shot at police during the resulting pursuit. The three went generally east, south, and east again. Along the way, the accomplices got out of the SUV and were apprehended. By the time the SUV got here, Del Rio was the only occupant.
In the final portion of the pursuit, police in several unmarked cars tailed Del Rio eastward on Baseline Road, an east-west thoroughfare north of South Mountain. When Del Rio turned south from Baseline onto this I-10 entrance ramp, police spun his vehicle around with a PIT maneuver. His SUV ended up almost against the chain-link fence, facing my vantage point, and boxed in by police cars. Apparently Del Rio pointed a gun at police. Two or three officers fired at him, killing him. It is not gory or scary---the driver cannot be seen inside his vehicle.
Much of the chase is documented in a YouTube video that was filmed from a helicopter (link below). Del Rio’s final turn, the PIT maneuver, and the shooting start at 15:43 in the video. It’s possible to see windshield glass spraying as bullets pierce it. A few seconds later the TV station changes the feed to protect viewers from reality, briefly showing a panel discussion with Rudi Guliani, then a weather forecast. The helicopter video feed resumes at 17:35.
Life can be fleeting: only sixteen minutes after the video coverage begins, Del Rio dies. After watching the video, I realized I had driven past this site a few times during errands in the Phoenix area. That prompted me to photograph the site. My photo looks southwest.
Video’s title: “Police shoots bank robbery suspect after police chase (VIEWER DISCRECTION ADVISED) Phoenix 9/6/2016”
Video’s URL: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxkfB-pndHM
The next photo is a screen capture of the video at the moment of truth.