MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Troopers are fighting to cut down on wrong-way crashes on local interstates.
Two men died Saturday morning when one of them was driving in the wrong direction on Interstate 485 near West Boulevard.
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Channel 9 reporter DaShawn Brown learned that's where troopers respond to the most wrong-way collisions in Mecklenburg County.
Most of the wrong-way crashes involve either drugs or alcohol, but troopers have been struggling to find a way to stop them from happening,
Troopers said in 2018 they have already investigated a third as many wrong-way crashes in Mecklenburg County than they did all last year.
“Too frequent right now,” trooper Ray Pierce said.
In Saturday’s wrong-way crash, investigators said 27-year-old Jeremiah Bellard was driving the wrong way on I-485 when he crashed head-on with 68-year-old Jose Carpio, killing both drivers.
Carpio's roommate told Channel 9 off camera that he was headed to work when he was killed.
“Unfortunately, in this instance, we were attempting to get there and weren’t able to in time,” Pierce said.
Officials with North Carolina Department of Transportation are testing a way to help prevent wrong-way crashes.
NCDOT has set up sensors and flashing lights along toll roads in Raleigh, warning drivers and troopers of the oncoming danger.
The fatality rate in Mecklenburg County is the highest in the state, troopers said.
Leonard Johnson, a Charlotte resident, has seen a wrong-way driver headed in his direction.
“It definitely is frightening,” Johnson said. “To see lights coming at you, it can be a little nerve-wracking.”
Troopers are investigating to find out if alcohol played a factor in Saturday's crash.
“You can only do so much,” Pierce said.
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