DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A driver believed to be drunk and going the wrong way on Interstate 85 Monday night collided head-on with an elderly couple who had just left a Durham hospital where the wife had chemotherapy, officials said.
The couple survived the crash but went to the hospital, authorities said.
The wreck was reported just before 8:30 p.m. in the northbound lanes at mile-marker 179 near East Club Boulevard in Durham, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
The wrong-way driver got out of his car after the wreck and ran away, 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 the wrong way on a exit ramp and ended up going south in 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 60 mph speed limit as they were headed home to Northampton County after the wife’s chemotherapy treatment at a Durham hospital, Schaffer said.
The wrong-way driver was going about 45 mph at the time of the wreck, making the impact speed 105 mph, according to Schaffer. Troopers found several empty beer cans and empty Modelo beer bottles inside the wrecked Ford, Schaffer said.
Efforts to find the driver hit a dead-end because the car’s license plate from Maryland was “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,” he said. “Those poor innocent people (were) just leaving chemotherapy”.