A woman faced a horrific decision Tuesday night when she chose to jump off a 30- to 50-foot high bridge in Surprise rather than get crushed by an out-of-control van.
Police spokesman Sgt. Mark Ortega said a woman's car stalled on the Friendship Bridge that crosses the rock-strewn Agua Fria River near 11,500 West Bell Road.
Another woman stopped to offer assistance about 10 p.m.
As the two women tended to the vehicle, a suspected drunken driver, 71-year-old Ronald Pryhuber of Surprise, collided with both parked vehicles, police said.
One woman jumped into the road to avoid the oncoming van. The other plunged over the bridge into a sandy patch of the river bed. It's unclear whether the woman who jumped was the Good Samaritan or the woman whose car had broken down.
Maxine Zeller of El Mirage was identified as the woman who jumped. She was able to communicate with rescue workers and complained of extreme back pain, said Capt. Mike Morris, a Surprise Fire Department spokesman
Morris said she didn't appear to have any life-threatening injuries.
"There are internal injuries that can always take over after the fact and that's why she was taken to the trauma center," he said.
Morris said the woman was lucky to hit the sand.
"It's a lot better than landing on the rocks," he said. "There were rocks 10 feet on either side of her."
Morris said that Zeller had been standing in between the two vehicles and would have been crushed had she not jumped, which "I would say is equally as bad."
She was taken by helicopter to the trauma center at John C. Lincoln Hospital.
Ortega said police arrested Pryhuber on suspicion of aggravated DUI and booked him into the Fourth Avenue Jail.