Virginia State Police investigating wrong-way driver incident on I-495

A woman suffering a mental health crisis drove an SUV the wrong way down Interstate 495 then on Interstate 66 — also heading the wrong way — Thursday morning, police said.

According to Virginia State Police, calls began coming in around 10:30 a.m. reporting a red Chevy heading northbound in the southbound lanes on I-495 near exit 51. The driver then got on I-66 going east in the westbound lanes.

Driver Clifford Crittenden told WTOP’s news partner NBC Washington that he barely had a moment to register that a car was coming directly at him on his way to work.

“A moment later, I saw this car coming right at me. Luckily, at that moment, I swerved,” he said.

Crittenden captured the moment on his dashcam, and the footage shows the driver in the red Chevy rounding a corner heading straight for him, before he moves out of the way for the oncoming car.

The driver, a 57-year-old woman from Pennsylvania, struck a vehicle as she was heading into Arlington County, which punctured one of her car’s tires.

The woman finally stopped on the shoulder of I-66 near mile marker 72, where she was met by state troopers.

She initially refused to get out of the car, and Virginia State Police said the troopers recognized that she was “suffering from mental duress.” They contacted a family member and kept talking with the woman and eventually she agreed to get out of her vehicle.

She was taken to a nearby hospital for an evaluation. Police said charges are still pending.

The driver of the vehicle she struck as she approached Arlington County was also taken to an area hospital for treatment of what police described as “minor injuries.”

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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