BELTON, Mo. — A Kansas City woman was the latest person killed as a disturbing trend continues into the new year. Wrong-way crashes on Missouri interstates have already claimed six lives.
There were more than 300 wrong-way crashes in Missouri in 2019. When they happen on interstates, they are often fatal.
“You’re not expecting to see headlights coming at you when you are driving down the highway,” Cory, who could have easily been a seventh victim, told FOX4.
Missouri, which ranks 18th in population, had the 4th most fatal wrong-way crashes the past decade, according to AAA statistics.
A Cass County driver could have easily been a seventh victim in 2022.
The man named Cory had just hung up a call with his mother Thursday night and entered Interstate 49 in Belton heading north when he moved into the passing lane.
“All of a sudden, I see these headlights, and it took me a second to register what I was seeing,” Cory said.
It was a vehicle heading straight for him. He made a split-second decision to drive onto the left shoulder.
“Woah! Holy s**t!” he could be heard exclaiming on his dash camera video.
“It hits just as hard every time just knowing that shot of adrenaline. Two seconds later if I would have seen it, it could have ended badly. I wouldn’t be sitting in this car. I wouldn’t be showing you this video,” he explained a few days later.
Cory called his mom back. Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Lowe is glad he didn’t have to make that call to Cory’s mother.
“I’ve done that 15 times, and I can remember each reaction to those crashes I’ve had to do that,” Lowe said.
Kim Pawling, the woman killed Sunday north of the Kansas City metro on Interstate 29 near Faucett, Missouri, was the wrong-way driver, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Often its the other way around or both drivers are killed.
Four people were killed and three children hurt in a wrong-way crash in Boone County on Monday. Another driver awaiting trial for her part in the U.S. Capitol insurrection is suspected of a fatal wrong-way DUI crash near St. Louis on Tuesday.
“They’re perplexing. They’re frustrating, you know, when something like that is coming out, and you are going to it you know it’s going to be bad,” Lowe said.
Lowe said crashes most often happen at night and are caused by impaired or elderly drivers.
“I don’t understand how you obviously have cars driving at you. You are thinking, ‘I’m probably on wrong side of the highway,'” Cory wondered. “I’m just glad I swerved the opposite direction that they did and that they didn’t hit the car that was next to me as well.”
If you have someone driving at you, what do you do? Go left, go right, hope they swerve?
Unfortunately, there’s no one answer. Troopers said the best you can do is slow down to give yourself more time and potentially a less severe impact, and just be alert and ready to move over.
Then after they hopefully pass call *55 or 911 immediately to report the wrong way driver.