News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It was a violent wrong-way crash down a popular Augusta highway that sent 5 people to the hospital on Monday.
One victim is still in critical condition as deputies investigate how the driver was able to drive 3 miles against traffic.
"River Watch is one of the quickest routes, probably most efficient route, to get to downtown or anywhere else," said Augusta driver Bryan Stringfellow.
But on Monday, a four-car accident put a stop to traffic and sent five people to the hospital. They're five people deputies say are lucky to even be alive.
"I would say definitely seat belts played a role here as far as keeping them secured in the vehicle and saving their lives," said Richmond County Sheriff's Sgt. Danny Whitehead.
Investigators say Monique Sullivan was driving with her husband and 4-year-old son when she somehow drove the wrong way down Jones Street and onto River Watch Parkway.
"I actually see that a lot, right over here coming off of River Watch [on Jones Street], I see a lot of people pulling out of this gas station and then trying to go down River Watch the wrong direction," Stringfellow said.
"We do know she was driving the wrong way, obviously, we're still looking at the injuries to see where they're at as far as the other folks that were in the vehicles," Whitehead said.
And what investigators don't understand is why the driver didn't pull onto the shoulder instead of driving 3 miles down River Watch Parkway. At least one witness told deputies they saw Sullivan's husband hanging out the passenger window motioning at people.
"If she traveled as she did travel, it's obvious that you're driving on the wrong side of the highway and that's part of the investigation and what we're looking at," Whitehead said.
For a lot of drivers, speed is also a dangerous element on this curvy stretch of highway.
"The speed is a definite problem on River Watch Parkway. People kind of have, over the years, developed their own speed limit, like we tend to go 65 to 70 generally, even in areas that are 45 miles an hour. It's just the way people do it ... not sure why," Stringfellow said.
"It's definitely, in the last five to six years, become a major highway. We try to monitor it daily for speed," Whitehead said.
Both drivers like Stringfellow and deputies say this violent wreck is a lesson to slow down.
"They get on a road like that that's open and they just try to step on it and move," Whitehead said.
"Slow down and take a different road," Stringfellow said.
Investigators say it could be weeks before they have any new information or charges could be filed.
In the meantime, a lot of viewers have been wondering about the victims here.
As of Tuesday afternoon, four people are still in the hospital. The driver, Monique Sullivan, and her husband, Demond Sullivan, are both in fair condition. Their 4-year-old son will be fine. Maureen Floyd was in the third car hit and is in serious condition. Amelia Hiltz, the first driver to be hit, is in critical condition.