Durham wrong-way crash serves as sign of bigger problem in NC
Posted March 22
Durham, N.C. — The crash that killed two people and injured others on Interstate 85 near East Club Boulevard in Durham Monday morning serves as a sign of a bigger problem.
In the last 16 years, there have been more than 500 wrong way crashes on North Carolina's freeways and interstates.Those accidents killed 145 people and injured 643 more — numbers that spurred the DOT into action.
The Department of Transportation is currently involved in a number of studies, at the state level and internationally.
In North Carolina, the DOT said there aren't that many wrong-way crashes. But it's a big concern because the ones they do have are so often deadly.
Robbin Williams' cousin, 49-year-old Aretha Chavis, got on I-85 in Durham Monday morning, going the wrong way. A cross marks the spot where two people lost their lives.
"As soon as we laid the cross, we just all broke down crying," Williams said. "Just to see the debris and stuff still on the road. It was so hard, especially with her kids there and her grandkids."
Police said she hit an SUV with nine people in it. Both Chavis and the other driver, 29-year-old Jerry Alamo of Rhode Island, died instantly. All others in the SUV were injured.
Kevin Lacy with the State DOT said they're involved in multiple studies to prevent wrong-way crashes.
In known trouble spots , they've added reflective strips to get drivers' attention. They're also working on initiatives that can use technology to detect wrong-way drivers.
"It's not hundreds or thousands of crashes," Lacy said. "It's a very small number of crashes, but when they do occur, they're pretty tragic."
Tragic accidents that Williams hopes no other family will experience. She said the more the DOT can do better.
"So ths wouldn't happen to another family," Lacy said. "There's two families lost here, not just our family, but another family. And I want to give my condolences and prayers to that family also."
Of the eight others injured in the crash, one still has critical injuries. The other seven have been released.
Police haven't been able to figure out for sure where the wrong-way driver got on the highway around here.