Woman killed in wrong-way crash had been reported missing, North Carolina troopers say

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A 69-year-old woman is dead, and three others are badly injured after a wrong-way crash that shut down a North Carolina highway for hours, troopers say.

Pearlie Mae Williams of McLeansville was killed after driving the wrong way on Interstate 40 in Guilford County on Jan. 20, according to North Carolina State Highway Patrol. Troopers said Williams was driving east in the westbound lanes when she struck another car head-on.

The accident, which occurred just after 5 p.m., caused “a chain reaction of crashes” involving five other cars, state police said in a news release.

Williams died at the scene. Police said she had been reported missing from her home earlier that day, though it’s unclear how long she was gone before the deadly crash.

There were three people inside the other car in the initial crash, including a father and son who suffered “serious life-threatening” injuries, according to the release. A third victim, the man’s mother, had only minor injuries.

All three were taken to a hospital in Greensboro for treatment.

Diego Fernandez, who was riding in the eastbound lanes, recalled the chaotic scene. He recorded video of the crash and hopped a concrete barrier to help the victims, WFMY News 2 reported.

“They were screaming and yelling,” Fernandez told the news station. “One of the ladies was praying for help. There were other people helping, too.”

“Being there in that situation, I was shocked,” he added. “To this point I’m still shocked.”

No injuries were reported in the other vehicles that were involved, state troopers said.

Authorities are still investigating why Williams was driving the wrong way on the interstate.

Guilford County is about 80 miles northwest of Raleigh.

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