A 72-year-old wrong-way driver in Palm Beach County slammed into three other vehicles and a pedestrian crossing the road, ultimately resulting in two deaths (including his own) and seven injuries. stop

Driving a 2015 BMW convertible, the man reportedly plowed into oncoming traffic as he traveled the wrong direction on Linton Boulevard, near Jog Road. He was traveling east in the westbound lanes, though authorities aren’t sure yet exactly why that was.

The westbound traffic was stopped at a red light in West Delray when the elderly driver drove toward them. It was about 10:25 p.m. 

According to news reports, the BMW first slammed into a 1999 Jaguar, driven by a 60-year-old man from Delray Beach. That victim suffered critical injuries when his vehicle was pushed off the roadway and into a fence. Then, the BMW slammed into a new Tesla Model S. The four people in that vehicle were between the ages of 73 and 96.

Then, the BMW slammed into a brand new Hyundai Elantra, where two Delray Beach woman were seated. The 82-year-old driver was injured. The impact of that car accident caused the BMW to spin and as it rotated, it struck a 52-year-old man who was crossing the street. That individual, of Boynton Beach, was taken to a local hospital, where he died.

Fire rescue officials said crews struggled to get passengers out of the mangled masses of metal, ultimately resorting to the “Jaws of Life” rescue tool to extract them.

It still isn’t clear why the driver was traveling in the wrong direction. He was a military veteran, accountant, father, husband and devoted animal lover and volunteer. At this point, officials do not believe drugs or alcohol was a factor in the crash.

In some ways, this case is unique because a huge percentage of wrong-way traffic accidents do involve a driver who is under the influence. Still, these incidents are far more common than they should be.

The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that in 2014, there were 576 people injured and 59 killed in wrong-way crashes in the Sunshine State.

Consider some of the other wrong-way Florida crashes just in the last month:

  • A 78-year-old Orlando man driving for eight miles going the wrong direction on State Road 528 caused three crashes as drivers swerved to avoid being hit head-on. Amazingly, none were injured.
  • A 47-year-old wrong-way driver in Tampa caused a fatal crash on Interstate 275 southbound near Interstate 4, killing himself and another man, 65.
  • One person was killed and three others critically injured when the driver of a red Porsche was traveling south in the northbound lanes and struck a blue Honda Pilot towing a boat head-on. The 23-year-old Miami driver of the Porsche died at the scene.
  • A 38-year-old motorcyclist in Dunedin was killed when struck by a Dodge Durango traveling north in the southbound lane on County Road 1. The 40-year-old Dodge driver was arrested for DUI manslaughter.

Officials in South Florida have said this is a top safety priority moving into 2016. There has been a substantial investment in wrong-way crash avoidance technology that includes bright, flashing warning signs on highway exit ramps and radar detectors to alert officials to possible wrong-way drivers.

If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.

Additional Resources:

Wrong-way driver kills self and pedestrian, injures seven others in West Delray crash, Jan. 30, 2016, By Erika Pesantes, Sun Sentinel

More Blog Entries:

Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital – Florida Supreme Court to Hear Workers’ Comp Case, Feb. 8, 2016, Miami Injury Lawyer Blog