DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A drunk driver going the wrong way on I-85 collided head-on with an elderly couple who had just left a Durham hospital where the wife had chemotherapy Monday night, officials said.
The wreck was reported just before 8:30 p.m. in the northbound lanes at mile marker 179, that is near East Club Boulevard in Durham, according to the NCDOT.
The wrong-way driver jumped from his wrecked car and fled on foot, authorities said. Despite searches involving a K-9 unit, the driver was not found, officials said.
The wreck happened when a driver of a 2008 Ford Focus+ drove up the exit ramp the wrong direction and then southbound onto the northbound lanes of I-85, according to Trooper P.A. Schaffer of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
A couple in their late 70s was traveling north on I-85 in a 2018 Honda CRV at the posted speed limit of 60 mph, Schaffer said. They were headed back home to Northampton County after the wife’s chemotherapy treatment at a Durham hospital.
The wrong-way driver was going about 45 mph at the time of the wreck — making the impact speed 105 mph, according to Schaffer.
Inside the wrecked Ford, troopers found several empty beer cans and empty Modelo beer bottles, Schaffer said.
Schaffer said efforts to track the driver hit a dead-end because the car’s license plate from Maryland is “fake.” The car itself is linked to Indiana but can not be traced — with Schaffer calling it “a ghost car.”
The elderly couple was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, but they are both expected to recover from the wreck, according to Schaffer.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Schaffer said.
The trooper said he is going to continue to try to track down the driver.
“I am going to do everything I can do to catch this guy — those poor innocent people (were) just leaving chemotherapy,” Schaffer said.
The highway reopened around 9:40 p.m.