Interstate 71 northbound back open following wrong-way crash that injured two

Posted at 6:18 AM, Aug 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-03 17:21:15-04

Morning traffic came to a halt after a wrong-way crash involving a semi-truck closed off I-71 north on Thursday morning.

The wrong-way driver, who was in his 20s, was driving a Ford Focus when he hit the left corner of a semi-truck, causing the Ford Focus to go into a counterclockwise spin, and as a result, hit a Hyundai Elantra.

The wrong way driver has critical injuries and the driver of the Elantra has serious injuries, according to Cleveland police. Both were taken to MetroHealth Medical Center following the crash. 

The wrong-way driver is suspected of an OVI. Police are investigating the possibility of the wrong-way driver operating a vehicle under the influence. Charges have not yet been filed.

Footage from the scene showed a semi across several lanes of traffic. 

The crash caused all lanes of I-71 north at Fulton Avenue and West 25th to be closed. The road was reopened by noon.

The Cleveland Fire Department and crews from HAZMAT and Cleveland Sewer District assisted in the cleanup.

Unfortunately, the crash Thursday is far from the first of its kind.

Frank Brown talked to News 5 after losing his 20-year-old daughter to a wrong-way driver. She was driving home from work on  I-71.

"It's a hole in your heart that will always be there," Brown said.

Anthony Winn was in a similar crash over the winter. He was in a U-Haul truck when a drunk wrong-way driver hit him.

Even in a big truck, Winn told News 5 he felt lucky to be alive.

"Usually when two people hit head on, what is the outcome? Fatality," he said.

A trend emerging in these crashes — impaired drivers. That's still under investigation in Thursday's crash, but we learned in 75 percent of the wrong-way crashes here in Ohio, the driver is severely impaired.

So what do you do if you're driving and see headlights heading your way?

"There's not a lot you can do. you just have to try to be aware of your surroundings. And if you notice someone is driving the wrong way, call 911," ODOT Spokesperson Amanda McFarland said.