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Tulsa, OK Wrong Way Crash Kills One, Critically Injures Another Victim

Posted on January 16, 2020

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) is investigating the causes behind a wrong way, head-on crash that occurred around noon on January 7, 2020.

Tulsa’s News On 6 reported that one victim was transported to a local hospital in critical condition, while the other was pronounced dead after suffering massive injuries. An OHP spokesperson stated that the deceased victim, an 80-year-old man, had been driving eastbound in the westbound lanes of Interstate 44. He then encountered oncoming traffic, striking an SUV being driven by the injured victim. Though OHP has yet to identify exact details, there are certain common factors that are present when wrong way crashes happen. One of the top reasons drivers enter traffic in the opposite direction is confusing signage. The deceased motorist may have entered I-44 by turning onto an exit ramp, putting him directly into oncoming traffic at a very high rate of speed. Besides freeway on- and off-ramps, wrong way crashes may occur because other motorists are not clear on how to navigate: 

  • Diamond and diverging diamond interchanges;

  • Cloverleaf structures; and,

  • Roundabouts.

Charles Bryan Alred, founding partner at Charles Bryan Alred, PC in Tulsa, OK, pointed out some of the other factors that lead to wrong way accidents.

“Intoxication is behind the highest percentage of these incidents. When drivers are too drunk to read the signs or realize they’re going the wrong way, they put themselves, their passengers, and everyone else on the roadway at risk. When alcohol is a factor, there are other common elements in these crashes. Most occur in urban areas, on the weekend, between midnight and 5 a.m.”

Mr. Alred also noted that, due to the physical characteristics of wrong way collisions, many are head-on and at high speeds.

“When you have two vehicles traveling directly toward each other, going 55 miles an hour or more, you can just imagine the violent force of the impact when they hit each other.” From his experience in representing car accident victims in Tulsa, he noted that the most serious incidents lead to life-threatening, catastrophic injuries. “Victims are frequently left with traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, neck trauma, amputation, and other injuries – and that’s only if they survive such a devastating accident.”

Fortunately, Oklahoma law does allow injured victims and families of deceased individuals to seek compensation for their losses after a wrong way crash caused by someone else’s negligence. In addition, Mr. Alred mentioned that it may be possible to recover punitive damages if the circumstances indicate extreme, outrageous conduct like drunk driving.