Man killed by wrong-way driver on I-82

Man killed by wrong-way driver on I-82
A 66-year-old man was killed Friday when a woman driving west in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 82 near Hermiston collided nearly head-on with his vehicle. (Courtesy: Oregon State Police)
OREGON STATE POLICE NEWS RELEASE -- Oregon State Police (OSP) is continuing the investigation into the cause of an early Friday morning wrong way driver-involved fatal traffic crash on Interstate 82 near Hermiston. The names of the victim and surviving driver are rele ased in this update.

According to Sergeant Seth Cooney, on March 7, 2014 at approximately 1:27 a.m., a 2005 Cadillac CTS four-door driven by ALICIA G. BRECKHEIMER, age 31, from Hermiston, was traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 82 near milepost 4 when it collided nearly head-on with a 2006 Chrysler 300 four-door driven by ROBERT HENRY BAKER, age 66, from Ione, Oregon. After impact, the Cadillac came to rest in the center median and the Chrysler came to rest on the eastbound shoulder.

BAKER was pronounced deceased at the scene.

BRECKHEIMER was extricated by firefighters and initially transported by Hermiston Ambulance to Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston. She was later flown by LifeFlight to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.

Both drivers were using safety restraints. Alcohol is being investigated as a possible contributing factor.

OSP troopers from the Hermiston Work Site and Pendleton Area Command office are continuing the investigation. The eastbound lanes were closed over an hour before one lane was open for traffic as OSP Collision Reconstructionists continued the scene investigation. All lanes were cleared about 10:00 a.m.

OSP was assisted at the scene by Morrow County Sheriff's Office, Umatilla Police Department, Hermiston Fire and Ambulance, and ODOT.

Wrong way drivers present an obvious danger to all motorists on our highways. The most recent available crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates wrong way drivers are involved in 1.5% of all fatal crashes nationally. Wrong way drivers usually drive in the inside lane or inside shoulder, believing they are actually on a two-lane highway. Most common types of wrong way driver involved crashes are head-on or sideswipe crashes.

The following information and safety tips are offered related to wrong way drivers.

Who is the wrong way driver?

* Intoxicated driver
* Older drivers who easily get confused
* Intentional drivers (example - trying to avoid traffic jams / congestion caused by crashes)
* Inattentive drivers who mistake an off ramp for an on ramp

Safety Tips:

* Watch far ahead for signs of a possible wrong way driver, looking for signs similar to pending problems or developing emergency situations such as other traffic braking or swerving to avoid something, or the obvious - headlights coming in the opposite direction.
* Caution against driving long periods in the inside lane on freeways, especially on curves.