Wrong-way driver on US 395 causes several collisions; head-on ac - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Wrong-way driver on US 395 causes several collisions; head-on accident

Posted: Updated:

12/27/16 UPDATE:  

PASCO, WA - WSP Troopers say the wrong-way driver Matthew Smith was not under the influnce of drugs or alcohol at the time of the series of collisions. 

They say Smith will likely face one count of Second Degree Reckless Driving for each accident he caused, but emphasized that the charge is just a citation, not a criminal charge. This means that Smith possibly won't face a single criminal charge for the case.

The victims of the accidents that had to be taken to area hospitals have since been released.

WSP says to always drive in the right lane unless you are passing, because in the remote chance there is a wrong-way driver on the road you're driving on, they are more likely to drive in the right lane of the direction they are driving.

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PASCO, WA - Several car accidents along US 395 today were caused by 23-year-old Matthew R. Smith of Richland, who was driving a white Subaru Legacy the wrong way; going southbound in the northbound lanes.

Witnesses say the driver first got on the freeway in the wrong direction near Eltopia. Initial reports stated that the driver's careless and extremely dangerous driving had caused 8-10 car accidents, including a car fire at milepost 32 southbound.

Between Foster Wells Road and Kartchner Street, the white Subaru struck a northbound-traveling SUV head-on, which ended the string of accidents. The driver of the SUV, 49-year-old Melinda L. Lowe of Eltopia, suffered neck and back injuries. Smith suffered a broken ankle. Both cars ended up in the median.

"No fatalities right now," said WSP Trooper Chris Thorson. "We definitely have got some injuries; the driver of the wrong-way vehicle we can see had a broken ankle, the driver that got hit head-on has sustained back and neck injuries...they've been transported to local hospitals as well."

We also spoke with some witnesses who had seen the wrong-way driver before the head-on collision. "We were just really confused, like, it was just kinda one of those things where you're watching it and you just knew something bad was gonna happen, like, all you could do was just kinda sit and watch," one of the witnesses, Robert Grad, stated.

"I mean, my first thought was, you know, he might've not known," said witness Jesse Squires, "but after a while I mean there were people, like, driving with us, alongside of us and in front of us that were trying to flag him down and he just wasn't paying attention and obviously he had known he was going the wrong way."

WSP is saying that drugs or alcohol were not involved. The case is currently under investigation.

Charges for the driver of the white Subaru are currently pending.

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