DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. — The Salisbury woman who was killed in a crash after driving the wrong way on Interstate 85 has been identified, officials said.
Troopers said Demetria Neely, 28, was driving a Nissan Altima and began going the wrong way down the interstate in Rowan County around 9:30 a.m. and traveled for about 10 miles before crashing near Lake Road outside of Thomasville.
After the crash, one lane of I-85 southbound in Davidson County was closed for several hours Thursday morning, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
Police told Channel 9's Elsa Gillis that officers threw out stop sticks in front of the Neely's speeding car, but she kept going before eventually crashing into a tractor-trailer and hitting an SUV head-on.
Officers said Neely, who was not wearing a seatbelt, died at the scene.
The driver of the SUV was injured in the crash, but is expected to be OK. The tractor-trailer driver was not hurt.
A viewer sent Channel 9 video of the car traveling north in the southbound lanes, with other drivers swerving out of the way.
At one point, witnesses said she nearly hit troopers in Rowan County.
(Watch the video below)
Terrell Southerland was one of many drivers traveling along I-85 when the car came speeding toward him.
"It was like a movie, it was almost like a movie or something I was like hold on, is this a car coming towards me?" Southerland said. "She went right past me, she had to be going at least like 80 miles an hour she was just flying by and I swerved."
Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over the crash scene where we could see at least three vehicles with extensive damage.
Neely's family, her sister Deseree Austin and cousin Tyiea Jefferies, said she had been struggling.
"My sister was suffering from a mental illness," Austin said. "She was just admitted to the hospital about three weeks ago, and they were trying to figure out what was going on."
Austin said she had started to worry about her sister's strange behavior recently and had just checked her into the hospital. She said Neely was released about a week ago, but they were still concerned.
Her family said the Neely in the crash was not the same person they always knew.
"That was not Demetria, that was not Demetria. That was somebody else," Jefferies said. "She was just not with us. She was not the same person as what I knew."
"She was a fun loving person, like she was so silly, and she was a good all around person," Austin said.
Her family said they are hoping this tragedy might help other families help their loved ones suffering with mental illness.
"If you experience any type of odd behavior, as soon as you notice it, you need to seek help immediately," Jefferies said.
"Nobody knows what anybody is going through," Austin said. "If you haven't talked to somebody in a while, just stop in, check, call just to see if they're OK."
Austin said she wanted to apologize to the other people involved or injured in the crash.
It's unclear if Neely was intoxicated, but officials told Channel 9 that they are waiting on a toxicology report.
Check back for updates on this story.
Cox Media Group