A man was killed and 2 others were seriously injured when a wrong-way DUI driver slammed into another vehicle on the 5 Freeway in the Santa Ana area early Friday morning, Jan. 5th. Around 2:00 a.m. a California Highway Patrol unit spotted a wrong-way driver at speeds of at least 100 mph and attempted to stop him on the northbound Costa Mesa 55 Freeway connecter with the northbound Santa Ana 5 Freeway. The wrong-way driver, a 30-year old man from Lake Forest, was driving southbound on the northbound carpool lanes of the 5 Freeway in a gray Toyota Camry. Officers who spotted the wrong-way driver beforehand made a desperate effort to prevent the collision but the wrong-way driver was driving too fast and he eventually crashed head-on into a silver Mustang traveling on the transition road from the 55 Freeway. The impact caused both vehicles to collide into the concrete barrier walls of the roadway and left the Mustang teetering on the side of the overpass. The driver of the silver Mustang, identified only as a 33-year old man from Brea, was killed instantly while his female passenger sustained critical injuries from the collision. Responding officers were able to pry open the Mustangs passenger door in order to treat the female passenger until first responders could arrive to extricate her and transport her to a nearby hospital. The wrong-way driver was also seriously injured, but is expected to survive. He is expected to be arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter. He has not been identified.
CHP Sgt. Todd Kovaletz spoke briefly about his encounter trying to stop the wrong-way driver, “Being next to a wrong-way driver is one of the scariest things you can see,” Kovaletz said, “because all you’re seeing is that inevitability, what’s going to happen. You’re doing everything you can to get them to stop, but if they’re so either intoxicated or confused to be on the wrong side of the freeway, there’s not a lot of hope sometimes of getting them to stop.”
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