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Injury Traffic Crash Involving Wrong Way Driver - Interstate 84 near The Dalles
February 4, 2013

Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext 247
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Oregon State Police (OSP) is continuing the investigation into Monday morning's minor injury traffic crash involving an elderly wrong way driver in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 near The Dalles. Enforcement action decision is pending following completion of investigation and review with Wasco County District Attorney's Office.
 
According to Senior Trooper Michael Holloran, on February 2013 at approximately 8:20 a.m., two vehicles were involved in a traffic crash in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 near milepost 88. Preliminary investigation indicates a Toyota Prius driven by JOCELYN F. GAY, age 88, from The Dalles, entered Interstate 84 near milepost 85 in an eastbound direction but missed her exit two miles later. GAY apparently was unaware she missed the exit and continued driving eastbound for about ten miles before realizing she missed it.
 
Apparently thinking she was on a two-lane highway, GAY made a U-turn before the Celilo interchange and drove westbound in the left eastbound lane as other drivers flashed their headlights at her oncoming vehicle. Near milepost 88, the Toyota collided nearly head-on with a Dodge Caravan driven by REBEKAH A. DARDEN, age 65, from Umatilla. Both vehicles were traveling about 65 mph, and after the initial impact both struck the center median. The Dodge Caravan then veered to the right and sideswiped a semi-trailer. The vehicles came to rest about 500 feet apart.
 
Both drivers were transported to Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles with possible minor injuries. After arriving at the hospital, medical personnel decided to have GAY transferred to a Portland-area hospital. They were using safety restraints and the Toyota's airbags deployed.
 
OSP troopers from The Dalles Area Command office were assisted at the scene by The Dalles Police Department, Wasco County Sheriff's Office, ODOT and Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue. The eastbound lanes were closed about 90 minutes with a detour in place.
 
Wrong way drivers present an obvious danger to all motorists on our highways. The most recent available crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates wrong way drivers are involved in 1.5% of all fatal crashes nationally.  
 
Wrong way drivers usually drive in the inside lane or inside shoulder, believing they are actually on a two-lane highway. Most common types of wrong way driver involved crashes are head-on or sideswipe crashes. 
 
The following information and safety tips are offered related to wrong way drivers. 
 
Who is the wrong way driver?
 
* Intoxicated driver
* Older drivers who easily get confused
* Intentional drivers (example - trying to avoid traffic jams / congestion caused by crashes)
* Inattentive drivers who mistake an off ramp for an on ramp
 
Safety Tips:
 
* Watch far ahead for signs of a possible wrong way driver, looking for signs similar to pending problems or developing emergency situations such as other traffic braking or swerving to avoid something, or the obvious - headlights coming in the opposite direction.
* Caution against driving long periods in the inside lane on freeways, especially on curves.