The Richmond Register

Local News

July 16, 2011

Car headed wrong way causes fatal wreck

RICHMOND — The lives of two people were taken early Friday after a collision on Interstate 75 South near Exit 83.

Interstate traffic came to a halt for about three hours while police and emergency response personnel helped clear the scene.

A 1996 Chevy van driven by Joseph Vardeman, 38, of Corbin, was traveling in the wrong direction on Interstate 75 South when his vehicle collided head-on with a 2004 Chevy Impala driven by Megan Crawford, 25, of Metamora, Ill, according to the Kentucky State Police.

Vardeman and Crawford’s passenger Amy Adkins, 26, of East Peoria, Ill. were killed in the crash.

Madison County Coroner Jimmy Cornelison received the call at 4 a.m.

The 911 dispatch center began receiving calls around 3:58 a.m. reporting a person driving in the wrong direction on I-75 South, Cornelison said.

“They (the cars) didn’t look like vehicles,” he said of the wreckage. “It was total destruction. It’s possibly one of the worst things I’ve seen in a while.”

Both victims were killed immediately upon impact, he said.

Crawford is “clinging to her life,” at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, where she remains in critical condition, Cornelison said.

“Richmond Fire Department (workers) were able to extricate (Crawford) in an unspeakable amount of time,” he said. “I didn’t think they were going to be able to get her out, but they popped doors and popped seats and got her out of there in no time flat. Great job.”

Cornelison learned Vardeman was a painter after speaking with his girlfriend.

“She said he goes to work early,” he said. “She couldn’t understand why he would have been in the wrong lane. I did a drug screen on him. We won’t know anything on him for 14 days. That’s normal procedure. Maybe he was just tired or confused.”

Vardeman and Crawford were wearing seat belts, according to the KSP.

However, Cornelison, said he was not sure as to whether seat belts were in use.

“I couldn’t tell in all the mess,” he said. “You can’t imagine how they were twisted in there. For anyone to survived it as long as (Crawford) is amazing. It’s a miracle.”

The crash remains under investigation by the KSP.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@richmondregister.com or 624-6608.

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