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Wrong-way driver high on drugs arrested in Utah

OGDEN, Utah (NBC) A woman high on drugs and driving on the wrong side of the freeway tried to hijack several vehicles after her own car rolled on Interstate 15 while fleeing from troopers Monday, the Utah Highway Patrol reported.

Natalie Peterson, 32, was allegedly driving north in the southbound lanes near the 31st Street exit in Ogden when UHP troopers approached her shortly before 2 p.m.

Troopers began performing slowdowns on southbound I-15 to reduce the potential for an accident, according to UHP Sgt. Todd Royce. At one point Peterson allegedly drove directly at a trooper, who had to get out of the way.

Peterson began driving in circles on the freeway and one trooper was able to make contact with her vehicle, which caused it to roll, Royce said.

Peterson fled the wreck on foot and allegedly tried to hijack several other vehicles, including a semitruck. Troopers soon caught up to her, but it took five troopers to subdue Peterson, who weighs only about 100 pounds, according to Royce.

Peterson was taken to Ogden Regional Medical Center to be treated for cuts and bruises. Four troopers were also hospitalized for tests because of their exposure to Peterson's blood, Royce said.

Investigators believe Peterson, who is currently out of prison on parole, was high on drugs and possibly having a mental health breakdown. Investigators planned to book her into the Weber County Jail after being released from the hospital.

Royce said it was extremely alarming to receive calls about a wrong-way driver during heavy traffic on I-15.

"It's kind of our worst nightmare when people get on the freeway (and) they're going the wrong direction," he said. "It almost gives you a sense of hopelessness."

The sergeant said dangerous wrong-way driving seems to be occurring more and more frequently, although he can't explain why.

"We hate to see it because we end up seeing some tragic results of it and innocent people dying," he said. "It's horrifying. Luckily in this situation we were able to get it stopped, which we're extremely grateful for."

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