MILLCREEK, Utah (ABC4 News) – A man is in critical condition tonight after a wrong way driver collided with his vehicle on I-80 early Sunday morning.
Utah Highway Patrol says 34-year-old Eliza Vanorman began heading north on the south bound lanes on the east belt of I-215 near 5500 S around 3 a.m.. She then merged onto I-80 west on the east bound lanes striking 21-year-old Christopher Sideris’ truck virtually head on.
“The driver that she hit swerved over to the left hand lane. She swerved to what would have been her right so, went head on with him so, both vehicles must have been slowing because both drivers survived,” said Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Jacob Cox.
UHP and Salt Lake City Police received calls from commuters around 3 a.m. reporting the wrong way driver. Andrew Neilson was one of the them. What was a typical early morning drive to work quickly turned to fear when he saw Vanorman’s headlights coming straight at him. His wife in the car with him.
“I barely missed her by just a matter of feet and that’s when the 21 year-old driver of the van got the head on collision instead of us. That’s when I looked and saw the smoke and the sparks coming from both of the cars,” he said.
The two were taken to the University of Utah Hospital. Vanorman who was wearing her seatbelt survived with minor injuries. Sideris, was not, and is in critical condition. Upon their investigation, UHP found Vanorman had been drinking.
“She had a strong odor of alcohol about her, she wasn’t making a lot of sense when we were speaking with her. She kept asking about the other driver asking, ‘Is he gonna be OK, is he gonna be OK?’ She was very hysterical when she realized she had caused the crash,” say Cox.
Utah Highway Patrol wants to remind drivers to pull off to the side of the road and call 911 immediately if they ever encounter a wrong way driver out on the road. They ask you provide them with as much detail as possible about the vehicle, its speed, your location, and direction of the other vehicle before safely pulling back onto the road.
Vanorman was later arrested for DUI. Sideris remains in the hospital tonight. While his condition is poor, he is expected to be OK.