Wrong-way driver may have gone five miles on I-40 before fatal crash

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comJuly 16, 2012 

WRONGWAY.071612.TI

A caution tape was laid on the median of Interstate 40 near the Jones Sausage Road exits Monday, July 16, 2012. Two people were killed due to a wrong-way clash Sunday, July 15, 2012. It happened five weeks to the day after the accident involved a wrong-way vehicle on I-440 and claimed two lives.

TAKAAKI IWABU — tiwabu@newsobserver.com

— Investigators say a 21-year-old woman may have driven at least five miles in the wrong direction on Interstate 40 early Sunday before her Toyota sedan plowed head-on into a minivan.

Carolina Elizabeth Gonzalez Linares of Morrisville was killed, as was a passenger in the minivan, Job Misael Hernandez, 17, of Raleigh. The driver of the minivan, Hernandez’s brother Natanael Bartolome Hernandez, 21, also of Raleigh, remained in critical condition at WakeMed on Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The Toyota and truck were both traveling about 65 mph when they collided in the westbound lanes of I-40 near Jones Sausage Road at about 2:20 a.m.

About two minutes earlier, a woman motorist called 911 to report that she saw a car going east in the westbound lanes of I-40 near Exit 298-A, the South Saunders Street exit.

“Unless I am totally seeing things,” the 911 caller said. “But I am pretty sure I just saw that.”

The 911 dispatcher told the caller that the emergency communications center would broadcast a message advising law enforcement to be on the lookout for the wrong-way car.

Police are not sure when or where the Toyota got on the interstate going in the wrong direction, said Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue. The South Saunders Street exit is five miles from the site of the accident.

Investigators are awaiting toxicology test results from the state medical examiner’s office in Chapel Hill to determine whether Linares was intoxicated, Sughrue said.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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