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Headlights examined in fatal Raleigh head-on collision

Posted July 20, 2012

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— Police investigating a fatal head-on collision on Interstate 40 in Raleigh last weekend are trying to figure out whether lights on a car that hit a minivan were on at the time.

Carolina Elizabeth Gonzales Linares, 28, of Morrisville, and Job Misrael Hernandez, 17, were killed in the wreck, which happened shortly before 2:30 a.m. Sunday near Jones Sausage Road.

Investigators said Linares drove her 2009 Toyota Corolla in the wrong direction of westbound I-40 and hit a Ford Windstar minivan driven by Hernandez's brother, Natanael Hernandez, 21.

He was listed in serious condition at WakeMed on Friday morning.

According to an affidavit in a search warrant released Thursday, the impact caused extensive damage, which made it difficult for detectives to tell whether Linares' headlights were on at the time.

They removed the brake bulbs from her Corolla, as well as the front left headlight bulb and the car's event data recorder.

The warrant affidavit indicates that investigators believe the headlights on Hernandez's minivan were on.

It's still unclear why Linares was driving in the wrong direction. Police have requested blood tests to see whether alcohol might have been a factor.

Family members said Friday that Natanael Hernandez's condition has improved and that he is breathing on his own.


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  • busyb97 Jul 24, 2012

    Btw, Not saying that excuses this driver...especially if alcohol is involved. Just an observation based on my own driving and getting confused as to which ramps you need to find.

  • busyb97 Jul 24, 2012

    Some cosistency in where they place on ramps may help also. So many different scenarios that sometimes you do get confused as to which area you need to go to! Signs are often poorly positioned or confusing.
    And at night, not much better.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jul 24, 2012

    For anyone who says that driver’s education is NOT the answer in this case, logically, you must concede that this driver knew exactly what she was doing. (Or, is there proof she was drunk?)

    You must concede that she purposefully chose to go the wrong direction and continued to do so for miles…ignoring all the posted signs and inherent road signs (like the reflectors imbedded in the asphalt that show white (correct direction) and red (wrong direction)). (You DID know about the reflectors’ colors, right?)

    That is highly unlikely. If she wasn’t drunk, she was confused about how ramps and roads connect and work together. Education would fix this and much, much more.

  • 3forme Jul 20, 2012

    Don't all the interstate ramps have those big "wrong way' signs on them?

  • SurvivorOne Jul 20, 2012

    Does it really matter? Should have SPIKES installed at off ramps so wrong way drivers get flat tires!

  • Mon Account Jul 20, 2012

    "What about one way tire spikes that would not allow someone to drive onto an exit ramp in the wrong direction ???" - tarheelpatriot

    Emergency vehicles. And cars stuck on ramps trying to change tires.

  • tarheelpatriot Jul 20, 2012

    I recently met a car on the exit ramp of 540 traveling in the wrong direction. I blew and flashed my lights and it pulled off and turned around.. What about one way tire spikes that would not allow someone to drive onto an exit ramp in the wrong direction ???

  • jjsmith1973 Jul 20, 2012

    This has happened without impairment before. Education doesn't change what happened. Yes, lighting, marking, and road design actually will help prevent this in the future. Education won't. People already know not to drive the wrong way on the road. More education doesn't prevent this from occurring when you don't realize you are driving the wrong way because of poorly marked and lit roads. There needs to be a better solution. Education in this instance isn't an answer

  • mpheels Jul 20, 2012

    I drive a 2001 Corolla - I have daytime running lights and there is a light sensor that turns the full head/tail lights on automatically when it gets dark. I would expect a 2009 Corolla to have the same/similar features, which means it would be pretty hard to turn the headlights off.

  • dshan10670 Jul 20, 2012

    When one has the light element involved in the crash, there are certain tests which prove the light was on or not on at time of impact.