911 calls suggest Pulaski Co. wrong-way driver drove for miles before fatal collision

Calls made to Pulaski County 911 dispatchers suggest a wrong-way driver that died when she crashed with a MEMS ambulance may have been driving in the wrong direction for as much as seven miles before crashing. (Photo: KATV)

Calls made to Pulaski County dispatchers early Sunday morning suggest a woman who died in a wrong-way collision with a MEMS ambulance may have been driving in the wrong direction for miles.

According to Pulaski County 911 call logs, the calls began around 5:06 AM with a call from a driver alerting dispatchers to a wrong-way driver around the Crystal Hill exit on Interstate 40 eastbound. Another call was made by a driver saying he spotted the driver headed past the I-40/I-430 split.

PCSO dispatchers received nine calls from drivers in a six-minute time span before the call around 5:12 AM alerting dispatchers to a collision involving a flipped MEMS ambulance and car near the Morgan/Maumelle exit.

Trying to prevent a crash involving a wrong-way driver is often a helpless situation, according to Danny Straessle, Arkansas Department of Transportation spokesperson. Straessle said it's usually difficult to pinpoint a wrong-way driver's location.

"It becomes tricky for the dispatchers to figure out - okay this car is supposed to be going in this direction in these set of lanes - you know where do I have units that might be available," said Straessle. "And they may not be available."

Roughly two years ago, the Arkansas Highway Commission spent about $3.1 million on making safety improvements to more than 350 highway entrances, including lowering do-not-enter signs to better reflect car headlights and installing reflective barriers to shine red in the case of a wrong-way entrance.

Officials still aren't sure exactly where the wrong-way driver, 21-year-old Briana Carter of Little Rock, got onto the interstate or why she got on the wrong direction of traffic. Straessle said unfortunately there are a multitude of factors that could have played into the accident.

"They could be confused, they could not be familiar with the area, they could be sleep deprived, they could be under the influence," said Straessle.

"It could be anything. Something that happens that early in the morning, any of those factors could be the determining factor as to how somebody get on going the wrong way."

Carter was pronounced dead on scene by the Pulaski County Coroner's Office. According to the Arkansas State Crime Lab, it could be until the end of the month before toxicology results come back from blood samples taken from Carter at the scene of the crash.

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