A teen driving north into Payson on Highway 87 Friday reportedly lost control of her vehicle after the accelerator got stuck, sending her flying through afternoon traffic, according to police.
The 17-year-old was unable to slow down or stop and police did what they could to clear a path for her as she struggled to regain control.
The teen had reportedly just purchased the white vehicle in the Valley and was driving home, her mother following in another vehicle.
As the teen approached Payson, the vehicle's accelerator stuck. The teen called her mother and alerted her of the problem. The mother then called police and officers raced to clear intersections as the teen entered town.
Witnesses said the teen's vehicle appeared to be going 55-60 mph, said Police Chief Don Engler. Several motorists reported that they were nearly struck by the vehicle as it sped down the Beeline.
One woman waiting to pull into Wendy's said the papers sitting on her minivan's dashboard flew up as the teen's vehicle passed.
It is unclear if the teen tried to turn off the vehicle or put it into neutral. She was not wearing a seat belt when the vehicle clipped three other vehicles at the Beeline and Malibu Drive intersection. The teen's car rolled several times, ejecting her.
Paramedics airlifted the driver to Phoenix in critical condition. There were no injuries to the occupants of the other vehicles, Engler said.
Police say it is amazing no one else was seriously injured.
"It is credit to her," Engler said. "She was doing her best so that she wouldn't strike other vehicles."
Rumors that the accident culminated during a police chase are untrue.