A head-on collision on the interstate south of Greenville, South Carolina (SC), killed a 72-old- passenger in the vehicle of the innocent driver. The deadly wrong-way crash happened near mile marker 24 on I-385 a little after 4 am on September 1, 2017.
State Highway Patrol investigators told reporters that a 19-year-old woman was traveling south in the northbound lanes of I-385 when she struck a Nissan. The passenger in the Nissan died at the scene after becoming trapped in the wreckage.
Officials could not determine where the at-fault driver entered the interstate. Two possibilities are Fairview Street, which is marked as Exit 24, or Harrison Bridge Road, which is the next exit from Northbound I-385 into the Greenville County town of Fountain Inn.
The at-fault driver did not suffer injuries, and no information was given on the condition of the person behind the wheel of the Nissan. Also unclear from news accounts is whether the wrong-way driver will face charges for causing the fatal wreck.
Driving into oncoming traffic is illegal precisely because doing so sets the stage for an incident that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines as when “the front end of one vehicle collides with the front end of another vehicle while the two vehicles are traveling in opposite directions.”
Highway engineers devote significant effort to preventing drivers from using exit ramps as on ramps, whether due to confusion or impairment by drugs or alcohol. The right mix of physical barriers, warning signs, and pavement markings has yet to be discovered. The tragic results are driver and passenger deaths like this one in Fountain Inn, SC.
During 2014, NHTSA researchers identified 62,000 head-on collisions that inflicted injuries. They also logged 2,866 fatal head-ons during that year. While not each of those serious wrecks involved a wrong-way driver on an interstate, too many did.
If the final crash report from the Highway Patrol states that the wrong-way driver acted negligently or recklessly in entering I-385 in Greenville County, the family of the elderly passenger who lost her life will have strong grounds for filing a wrongful death insurance claim or lawsuit. Consulting with a caring Carolina plaintiff’s attorney who has experience helping family members after a sudden and unexpected loss will enable them to understand and exercise their legal rights to request compensation and damages.