WHITSETT, N.C. (WGHP) – One person is dead, and three more are in the hospital after a driver going the wrong way on the highway caused a multi-car wreck, stopping traffic for several hours.
On Thursday, Pearlie Mae Williams, 69, of McLeansville was going the wrong way on Interstate-40/85 near the Rock Creek Dairy Road exit before she crashed head-on into another car. She died at the scene.
Investigators said there were three people in the car she ran into: 31-year-old Jose Gonzalez, his son and Gonzalez’s mother. They were all sent to the hospital the night of the crash. Jose and his son have life-threatening injuries.
Diego Fernandez happened to be riding with his coworker when he spotted the SUV going the wrong way. He captured the frightening moments right before the head-on crash.
“I was on the passenger side, and my coworker was the one driving, and he turned to the side, and he noticed that the car was driving the other way on the highway, so the first thing that came to my mind was ‘I know this is going to end terrible because the cars are going 70-plus miles per hour,’ so what I did was I pulled out my phone, and I started recording, and it was a couple of seconds later, and that’s when the SUV impacted the other car, and it went flying,” Fernandez said.
Patricia Benitez was also driving on the highway that day.
She said she nearly missed being one of the victims of that crash. She was just one lane over from another car that was caught up in the wreck.
“I had to swerve to dodge some of the debris that came from that, and he or she sped right past me. They must have been going 50 or 60 to the right of me. If I would have swerved right, the car would have probably completely hit me,” Benitez said. “Honestly, it was hard for me to sleep last night. Just because I’m so lucky. I was really, really close. When I told my parents, they almost broke down just thinking about how close I was. So I’m just really, really grateful, and I’m praying for the families that were affected.”
Investigators said Williams was reported missing right after the crash took place.
She had not returned home that day. It is not clear why Williams entered the westbound lanes of the interstate and began to go east.
The investigation is ongoing.