After crashes involving wrong-way drivers on Louisiana highways have taken several lives over the past 2 months, more people are sharing their stories of seeing wrong-way drivers in the area.

On Saturday night, 18-year-old Ramsie Baumgardner was killed when a 31-year-old Carencro man drove the wrong way on Highway 167 near Abbeville and crashed into her car head-on. The driver from Carencro was killed as a result of the crash as well. According to Louisiana State Police, toxicology reports are still pending.

4 people were killed when a wrong-way driver crashed head-on into a vehicle after he entered I-49 headed north in the southbound lanes in December. That crash took the life of the intoxicated wrong-way driver (his BAC was 3x the legal limit), and it also took the lives of 3 siblings from Iberia Parish.

Yesterday a Facebook user posted about his experience with a wrong-way driver on Highway 167, just a few miles north of the site where Baumgardner was killed.

On Tuesday evening, Caleb Reese of Gueydan was traveling east on Louisiana Highway 699 (the North Vermilion road) and turned south onto Highway 167. When he did, he saw headlights headed his way.

With the death of Ramsie Baumgardner fresh on his mind, he couldn't believe that yet another vehicle was traveling north in the southbound lanes of Highway 167.

Reese, according to his Facebook post, did the right thing: he moved to the side of the highway and called 911.

Reese turned around and followed the wrong-way driver until the driver stopped in the median, off of the roadway.

In his post, Reese states that agents with the Maurice Police Department, Vermilion Parish Sheriff's Department, and the Louisiana State Police arrived on the scene. (Also in his post, Reese says "The driver was obviously drunk." We have no confirmation from authorities that the driver was intoxicated.)

Louisiana State Police Car
Photo courtesy of LSP

Reese goes on to lament the fact that Highway 167 is not very well lit, and vowed to contact Congressman Clay Higgins about the issue.

This community does not need another person lost due to drunk driving on 167… thank you Jesus Christ this did not end in another tragedy, but it so easily could have… definitely had my angels by my side. Caleb Reese, via Facebook

He realizes how lucky he was to have not been involved in a head-on collision and wants to be part of a solution to the problem.

I admire Reese's desire to decrease crashes on Highway 167 by increasing the lighting, but we can ALL help decrease crashes by doing one thing: not driving while under the influence.

But, Reese is right: changes to lighting (and signage) along the highway should help decrease incidents of wrong-way drivers.

Congressman Clay Higgins

He did make contact with Congressman Clay Higgins' office, and updated his post with the new information:

Just to share an update. I got a call from Congressman Higgins office this morning and he is putting me in touch with DOTD to start a conversation. The congressman’s office is backing my efforts to get proper signage and possibly lighting along the highway. I have a really good feeling we will accomplish something out of this! Thank you guys for the texts offering to help call!

More signage and, possibly, signage for the highway. I like this idea, and I hope that if it comes to be it will be enough to prevent wrong-way drivers.

via Google Street View
via Google Street View

In another update to the post, Reese says that he has been in contact with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development about what steps need to be taken to get lighting and signage installed:

.. this will not happen overnight but I just wanted to say thank you to congressman Higgins and his staff for reaching out very quickly and being very helpful in finding solutions to this problem. Like I said, it will take a while but I will continue to work with State and Local officials to get this done and see it through.
Reese also took time to thank the community for its support and to encourage people in the area to be proactive in getting the improvements implemented:
Last thing, this will take the community’s input to help get this done. Be active! Call your police juror, your state representative! Get involved! Help to Make the change you want to see in this world. But thank you again to the community, I got hundreds of texts asking how to help, and it made me so happy to see so many people wanting to be apart of change.
Will the signage and lighting, if ever approved and installed, be enough to reduce the number of crashes involving wrong-way drivers? I am hopeful.
I do firmly believe, though, that until we lower the incidents of people driving under the influence, we will continue to see needless deaths on Louisiana highways.

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