Police: Wrong-way driver critically injured in I-40 crash

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

BELLEVUE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A wrong-way driver was critically injured in an accident on Interstate 40 West in Bellevue Monday morning, police said.

The crash occurred at 2 a.m. just after the Old Hickory Boulevard exit.

Officers at the scene told News 2 a red truck was traveling the wrong-way when it collided with a box truck.

Police received a report of a wrong-way driver traveling around mile marker 193, near the county line, but were unable to stop him before the accident occurred.

Joseph Birdsong, 45, of Liberty, Tennessee, was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in critical condition.

The 36-year-old box truck driver sustained minor injuries and refused treatment.

Police said there was no evidence of alcohol or drug involvement at the scene. It remains unknown why Birdsong was traveling in the wrong direction.

I-40 was closed for several hours while crews investigated.

Along with the accident early Monday, there have been other serious wrong-way crashes along I-40 in the Bellevue area.

Two died in mid-May on the interstate near Old Hickory Boulevard in a wrong-way accident.

In 2009, another driver died after being struck by what investigators then said was a wrong-way driver.

Bellevue resident and Metro Council member Shari Weiner drives the I-40 stretch where those wrong-way crashes happened on a daily basis.

She believes the roadway’s ramps are clearly marked with wrong-way signs that should be carefully seen by a typical driver.

“If you look at the ramp here, it clearly says wrong-way, one-way in multiple locations,” she told News 2. “We have got sufficient lighting, over here and behind your back to go along with traffic signals.”

Data from the Tennessee Highway Patrol shows wrong-way crashes were relatively rare in 2013-2014.

During that time frame, seven occurred each year for the five-county Nashville-area of Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties.

Breaking down the numbers even more shows alcohol in 2013 was involved in 57 percent of the wrong-way crashes, but only 14 percent in 2014 for wrong-way crashes in the five county area.

The most recent wrong-way crash remains under investigation.

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