A woman who told authorities she'd been out drinking before driving the wrong way on Interstate 485 Tuesday night collided with a man state troopers said was also drunk, sending three people to the hospital.
For six minutes before midnight, dispatchers got calls about a truck going the wrong way on a stretch of I-485 between I-85 and South Tryon Street, said Sgt. Ben Miller, of the N.C. Highway Patrol.
As troopers closed in, a white Chevrolet Silverado driven by 42-year-old April Wallace crashed into a Oldsmobile Allero driven by 39-year-old Darrell Tarleton near the Tryon Street bridge. Both were charged with driving while impaired, though more charges could be coming because of the seriousness of the injuries.
Both drivers were wearing seat belts and going about 65 mph, the speed limit on that stretch of highway.
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The passenger in Tarleton's Oldsmobile – 37-year-old Angela Scott of Charlotte – was flown by helicopter to Carolinas Medical Center and was in critical condition late Wednesday. She was also wearing a seat belt, but it's unclear what injuries she sustained.
Reginald Tucker told the Observer's news partner, WCNC, that he was behind the Allero just before it collided with the white truck. He said he later helped pull Wallace from her truck.
“If it wasn't for that red car, I would have probably got hit and it would have been me laying on that highway,” he said.
Tucker said Wallace appeared to be “out of it” and Miller said officers smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Wallace, who told them she'd been drinking and had gotten on the highway near Wilkinson Boulevard headed toward Pineville. “She said she had three or four drinks,” Miller said.
Officers also smelled alcohol on Tarleton, Miller said. And they found a bottle of vodka between the two front seats of the Oldsmobile. In January, Tarleton pleaded guilty to having an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of a vehicle. Staff researcher Maria David contributed.