COPLEY, Ohio– Police dash camera video captured efforts early Sunday to stop a wrong-way driver on Interstate 77 in Summit County.
The incident happened after midnight. Authorities were notified by a frantic 911 caller.
“They are going down in the fast lane, going towards traffic and just completely oblivious to the fact that there are like 5,000 cars in front of them,” the caller told a dispatcher.
At the time, the wrong-way driver was near White Pond Road heading north in the southbound lanes.
Copley Police Officer Jason Chisar, who was nearby, entered the southbound lanes of the interstate at Rt. 18 hoping to intercept and stop the driver.
Moments later, his dash camera captured a car coming towards him and, with his overhead lights on, the driver continued past him at an estimated speed of about 70 miles per hour.
“He reported that she looked right at him, so at that point in time I’m not sure if she didn’t process what was going on or if she just ignored him but she continued northbound,” said Copley Police Chief Michael Mier.
The video showed officer Chisar turning his cruiser around, hoping his overhead lights would warn southbound traffic to get out of the way, while trying his best to get the wrong-way driver to stop.
“Fortunately, his overhead lights did cause some drivers to get over to the side of the road and stop; he could still see other drivers in the distance that were approaching that had not yet seen him or had not yet reacted to his lights,” said Mier.
“He tried to get immediately next to the violator in an effort to push her over toward the median to get her to stop and, at that point in time, she looked at him again so she saw him for the second time,” he added.
The video appeared to show the driver, identified as a 55-year -old woman from Akron, accelerating as Chisar tried desperately to get her to stop, then her car made contact with the cruiser and spun across the southbound lanes, and hit another car before it went into a grassy median and stopped on a ramp. She was injured and treated at a local hospital.
“Given that the other traffic travelling southbound, if it was travelling at a legal speed of 65 or 70, it would have been a head-on collision; it would have been a closing speed of around 140 miles an hour which could be disastrous,” said Mier.
Two people who were in the other car that was hit were evaluated by paramedics at the scene but suffered only minor injuries and did not want medical treatment.
The highway patrol is investigating and believes alcohol was a factor in the incident.
Chief Mier credits the 911 caller with helping officers to intercept the driver quickly and bring the incident to a conclusion in just minutes.
“Our officer placed himself at tremendous risk in order to get this person off the road as quickly as he could to prevent a serious accident and, fortunately, he was able to do that without anybody getting seriously injured including himself; he did a great job,” said Mier.