HOUSTON - Two innocent drivers trying to get to work early Tuesday morning have been united by a wrong-way crash that police say could’ve killed somebody.
It started around 4 a.m. when a driver began going southbound in the northbound lanes of the West Loop near Memorial.
Edgar Ortiz was in the southbound lanes and witnessed the wrong-way driver heading toward oncoming traffic. Ortiz said the 21-year-old behind the wheel stopped in the middle of the freeway for a moment but then took off again.
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“I’m racing alongside him, blasting my lights, honking my horn… trying to get him to stop. He stopped, and I jumped out of my truck and tried to get in his car. It was locked. I beat on his widow, and he stepped on the gas,” explained Ortiz.
Ortiz honked and flailed to alert drivers the danger that was coming their way. Freeway cameras captured a number of close calls for a gut-wrenching five minutes.
There was nothing anybody could do to stop the head on impact that sent an innocent driver spinning out of control just north of Bellaire.
“I seen the car raise up in the air and spin. He probably spun for about a quarter of a mile,” recalled Ortiz. “My first instinct was just to make sure he was alright. He was responsive, and I was telling him it’s going to be alright.”
Ortiz consoled the victim as police swarmed the scene and then called the man’s wife to tell her what happened. The victim, 48-year-old Victor Vigil, was released from the hospital just hours after the accident.
He received several stitches on his leg as well as some bumps and bruises. Vigil believes God spared his life.
“I don’t remember nothing. The light was over me and then the impact of my car,” said Victor Vigil. “If you drive, don’t drink, please.”
The young man who was behind the wheel of the green Mustang that crashed into Vigil reportedly admitted that he had been drinking. Bellaire Police said the Harris County District Attorney’s Office has accepted a charge of driving while intoxicated.
The 21-year-old was released from the hospital around noon Tuesday, and police said he would be arrested as soon as they obtained a warrant.
A recent study by TxDOT analyzed crash statistics from 2009-2013 and found that an average of 38 wrong-way crashes happen every year on Houston area freeways.
The report said 75% of the wrong-way wrecks happen between 9 p.m and 5 a.m. and that 60 % happen between Friday-Sunday.
According to the study, 50% of the wrong way crashes on Houston area freeways are DUI related.
Photos: Wrong-way crash on West Loop