Crash on I-275 at least 2nd fatal wrong way accident this year in Metro Detroit

Posted at 10:59 PM, Feb 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-06 01:06:12-05

Just before midnight Friday on I-275 in Romulus, Gabrielle Haman was making her way home going southbound when she came across a horrific crash.

“I just seen a bunch of smoke and two vehicles that were no longer vehicles anymore,” Haman said. “Each car, it was half a car. Their front seats were basically in their back seats. It was probably the worst thing I've witnessed car crash wise.”

At the time of the accident, Michigan State Police and Romulus Police were on the lookout for a driver going the wrong way. By the time they arrived on scene it was too late, and two people were found dead.

“It was a very devastating situation,” Haman said. “I did not see the passengers at all in the vehicles because of how bad the cars were.”

The fatal crash is at least the second major accident this year involving a wrong way driver. The first happened January 3rd on I-94 in St Clair County.

"A whole instant replay of that day," said Audrey Paupert, who lost her daughter in the crash. "What is wrong with people? How do they do this?”

Paupert's daughter, 33 year old Teah Owens, died in the crash along with the 25 year old driver of the wrong way vehicle. The 33 year old mother of 4 was studying to become a nurse and had her 6 year old son in the car with her.

“It was really hard," Paupert said. "She had everything she wanted."

Owens son, who turned 7 on February 5, is now out of the hospital. He was just released this past week, roughly a month after the accident. Paupert says he suffered multiple broken bones and still needs a feeding tube due to a devastating head injury.

“His concentration and comprehension is not there, he’s not able to see very well right now either because of the head injury,” Paupert said.

From 2011 to 2020, 61 fatal accidents in Michigan were caused by wrong way drivers. This winter, MDOT starting testing new technology at the Joslyn exit ramp on I-75 in Auburn Hills.

Developed by the Auburn Hills based company Continental, the alert system flashes at wrong way drivers to turn around and if they don’t, MDOT workers are notified to alert police.

"We can alert authorities quicker than a 911 call from a passing motorist,” said Rob Morosi, a spokesperson for MDOT during an interview in early January. "The faster that we get that information into law enforcement hands, the better chance we have that this incident won’t become catastrophic.”

The January accident on I-94 has now left 4 kids without their mom. Owens family is doing their best to get by, hoping no other family has to feel their pain.

“She loved her kids, her kids were her life,” Paupert said of her daughter. "It's just unbelievable that someone would be so inconsiderate to take not only their life, but to take the life of other people and destroy other families.”

Teah’s family has also set up a fund-raising page on Facebook to help support her kids.