CLEVELAND (WJW) – Video released to the FOX 8 I-Team shows a wrong-way driver colliding with a tractor-trailer.
We found the driver spent less time on the highway going in the wrong direction than a witness spent calling in to 911 trying to alert police.
This crash involved at least the fifth wrong-way driver on local roadways just this week.
The latest case happened early Thursday morning on I-90 near East 185.
A woman called 911, saying, “I’m on the freeway and, down the road, someone just got on driving the wrong way.”
But the wrong-way driver ended up getting slammed by a tractor-trailer. It left the car shattered and the driver critically hurt.
In this case, the I-Team has learned a driver had been going the wrong way down a side road off of I-90. Then, the car got on the highway going the wrong direction at Babbitt Road.
The car collided with the tractor-trailer just over a minute and a half later.
We found the witness spent a minute and half trying to tell police dispatch exactly what was happening and where. The caller reporting the crash even got put on hold by Cleveland Police for more than a minute.
A recording in dispatch said, “You have reached Cleveland 911. Please do not hang up.”
Matt Bruning, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) said, “The wrong-way driver is not usually on the freeway for much distance.”
ODOT has talked about putting in sensors along a stretch of local highway to detect wrong-way drivers, but that may not have prevented what happened overnight.
“To look at less than two minutes from the time of entry to the highway, to the time of impact of the crash, we wouldn’t have even had time to pick up the phone and call and alert police,” Bruning said.
Days ago, we showed you how an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper stopped a wrong-way driver, but even he almost got hit head-on.
“We have very limited time to respond. You saw first-hand how quickly that trooper had to react,” Highway Patrol Sergeant Ray Santiago said. “When we get these calls, there’s a sense of urgency.”
ODOT says, statewide this year, there have been 80 crashes involving wrong-way drivers with 11 fatalities.
For all of last year, ODOT says there were 89 of those crashes with 16 deaths.
Highway Patrol figures show 498 crashes this year with 17 deaths and 45 serious injuries. However, these figures also include drivers on two-lane roads who drifted left-of-center.
The patrol also tracks wrong-way crashes on divided highways. The figures just for divided highways show 144 so far this year with 162 to this date last year.
Sgt. Santiago also points out that at least a quarter of the drivers in wrong-way crashes are impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Cleveland Police are investigating the latest crash.