Wrong-way driver triggers fatal pileup on Dallas freeway



Posted on June 17, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 18 at 1:56 AM

Wrong-way crash

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DALLAS — One person was killed, another person is in custody, and Stemmons Freeway was shut down in Northwest Dallas Sunday morning following a four-car pileup that officials said was caused by a wrong-way driver.

It happened around 7:30 a.m. in the northbound lanes of Interstate 35E at Commonwealth Drive.

A statement from Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Mark Pettit said at least three other vehicles were involved in the crash triggered by the wrong-way driver, who was identified by the Dallas County Sheriff's Department as Santiago Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, who is in the U.S. illegally according to his record, is in custody, charged with intoxicated assault with a vehicle causing serious bodily injury and intoxicated manslaughter with a vehicle. Bond was set at $200,000, but he is being held for U.S. Immigration.

Dallas Fire-Rescue firefighters and paramedics faced a challenge to free one motorist who was trapped in the twisted wreckage. The Sheriff's Department said Maria Vasquez, 33, was killed in the crash, and it could have been even more tragic.

"Deputies learned after notifying her family that she had just dropped off her three-year-old son with her parents prior to the accident," said sheriff's department spokeswoman Carmen Castro.

It took about an hour for Vasquez to be removed from the wreckage of her Mercedes sedan. She died a short time later at the hospital.

No other serious injuries were reported.

Pettit said all five northbound lanes of I-35E were shut down for more than three hours as the debris was cleared and spilled fuel was mopped up.

An investigation into the cause of the accident was under way.