DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Police received multiple 911 calls about a wrong-way driver, minutes before a crash took his and another driver’s life.
Now they’re investigating whether drugs or alcohol could have played a role. Police believe the driver entered Highway 114 at MacArthur and continued for 5 or 6 miles before he crashed.
KRLD Traffic Reporter Julie DeHarty was on her morning commute when she saw the wrong-way driver.
“And there was a truck in front of me, and I saw it slow down real fast, and I thought we must be coming up on a construction crew. I’m kind of looking, and all of a sudden, headlights,” she said.
The headlights belonged to Randell Pinto 26, of Grapevine.
“The car started coming up, and I’m looking at it, the headlights are coming, and I’m like ‘don’t hit me.’ They passed me, and I thought ‘oh my gosh.’ And there’s so much traffic behind me. They’re going to hit somebody,” DeHarty said.
About 10 minutes later, Pinto hit 51-year-old Thomas Vogt’s vehicle head on. Pinto was pronounced dead at the scene. Vogt, who was from Keller, died at a nearby hospital. DeHarty honked and then called 911. They responded and pulled up so close to Pinto’s vehicle that they could see him.
“They paralleled the driver in an attempt to get the vehicle to stop, and it failed to stop,” said Sgt. Robert Eberling of the Grapevine Police Department. “Unfortunately, we were not able to really drive on the opposite side of the road and were unable to get that vehicle to stop.”
A TxDOT spokesperson said they are launching new initiatives to try to reduce wrong way driving. North Texas drivers will notice raised pavement markers on ramps and arrows will reflect red if a driver enters the wrong way. It’s an effort to save lives like the two who were lost today.
“Just a tragic, tragic thing, and you just feel helpless,” said DeHarty. “I just felt helpless. There was nothing I could do, and I’m like, ‘please, somebody stop them.’ ”
TxDOT said Thursday’s wrong-way crash was the first in the area since 2012. They also said they will award the contract for the new pavement markers late this summer.