HPD: Wrong-way driver causes double fatal accident

April 14, 2013 8:20:07 PM PDT
Two people are dead after a fiery wrong-way wreck Sunday morning in north Houston. It's the second such crash in a week, and it has some concerned the message about drunken driving is falling on deaf ears.

Just before 5am, a woman in her early 20s driving a black sedan got on Beltway 8 North going the wrong way.

"A wrecker driver saw her passing by him just down the road a bit, and he turned around, but the crash had already happened," said Sgt. G.T. Hall with the Houston Police Department.

As the driver neared Aldine Westfield, she ran head-on into another car. The second vehicle burst into flames, killing a man and woman inside. The impact also shoved a third car into the retaining wall.

The eastbound lanes of the Beltway were closed for several hours. Investigators with the Houston Institute of Forensic Sciences were left with the gruesome task of removing the crash victim's burned bodies.

"The impact's pretty severe, so they could have died from the impact," Hall said. "They could have died because they couldn't get out of the car, either. Burned."

It's the second fatal, wrong-way crash in the last week, and police think alcohol was a factor.

Richard Booker saw the wreck when he stopped for gas with his family.

"There's too much going on with drunk driving. Killing people and stuff like that," Booker said. "And they're not giving them enough time in jail, really, to be honest with you."

Latoya Smith lost three family members in a wrong way crash involving a drunk driver in 2007. Now, she's a member of MADD.

"It's a trickle; it's a domino effect," Smith said. "You hurt so many people along the way -- family, friends, co-workers."

Like Booker, Smith feels the punishment for drunken driving, especially when someone loses a life, should be more severe.

Until the law changes, she's hoping tragedies like this at least help discourage people from drinking and driving.

"I just tell them to put themselves in the shoes of the others whom they affect with their decision," Smith said. "How would you feel if it was your sister, your brother who was killed by someone who made a selfish choice?"

The wrong-way driver in Sunday morning's fatal crash has not been identified. Officials tell us she was not seriously injured, and she faces intoxication manslaughter charges.

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