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WSP: Reports of wrong-way drivers happen more than you think

SEATTLE -- Six people were sent to local hospitals after a violent crash Monday night in south King County.

Four people, including a 5-year-old child, are all still recovering at Harborview Medical Center after surviving a situation none of us hope to encounter – a wrong-way driver. That's what investigators say happened late Monday night on SR 516 near Kent.

One of those crash victims was listed in satisfactory condition at Harborview but the three others, including the 5-year-old, are either in serious or critical conditions.

Two more people were killed in the causing driver's vehicle. Troopers say they were traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes.

Troopers with the Washington State Patrol said they get reports of wrong-way drivers happen often. In King County alone last year, troopers responded to 250 reports.

“Wrong-way drivers are more dangerous, I would say, 100 percent of the time, just because you have the dynamics of a car meeting head on in a way it’s not designed by manufacturers to meet,” said trooper Nick King.

It’s happened several times in recent memory: One man was killed in a wrong-way crash on I-90 last month, a suspected DUI driver was arrested after causing a violent crash on I-405 in Renton, and troopers say the wrong-way driver who killed two and injured another in Maple Valley admitted to smoking meth before getting behind the wheel.

“It’s a speeding bullet and it’s going to bounce off stuff until it stops,” said King

So how can you protect yourself in a similar situation? Troopers say drivers should stay out of the left lane, it’s only supposed to be used for passing anyways. Troopers also remind everyone to always wear your seat belt and never drive distracted.

“All we can do is pay attention to when you’re driving, put down our distractions,” said King. “All you’re doing is lessening your odds to be able to react to perceived danger.”

Investigators say it could take days to determine if Monday’s causing driver may have been under the influence.