Drunk driving suspected in 2 wrong-way crashes

Police officer and 18-wheeler driver hurt

HOUSTON - Drunk driving is suspected as the cause in two separate wrong-way crashes on Houston-area freeways Friday, officials said.

The first accident happened around midnight on the North Freeway near Tidwell Drive.

Houston Police said the driver got on Interstate 45 headed northbound in the southbound lanes. A Houston police officer tried to move out of the wrong-way driver's path, but slammed into a concrete barrier. The crash caused a chain reaction collision involving five cars.

"There were a couple of other wrecks. After the fact, I guess, they rolled here and hit the brakes so that's basically what occurred," said Sgt. Sorge with the Houston Police Department.

The suspect, Martin Hernandez, 33, was stopped one exit later and arrested. Hernandez was charged with driving while intoxicated and accident involving injury. Records showed it's his second DWI offense.

The officer was checked out by paramedics. He sustained only minor injuries. HPD said the officer had recently returned to work because of another crash several months ago involving a drunk driver.

The second wreck happened along Highway 225 and Richey Road in Pasadena shortly after 12:45 a.m.

Police said a man in a pickup truck was going the wrong-way when he hit the back of an 18-wheeler. The big rig's back axle was knocked off the truck. The 18-wheeler driver sustained minor injuries.

The man in the pickup had to be taken by helicopter to a hospital, where he was in serious condition.

In the past week, five people were killed in two wrong-way crashes on the North Freeway. The accidents occurred on June 29 and on July 1.

The wrong-way crashes happened on Interstate 45 in south Montgomery County. In both cases, alcohol was suspected.

"It's not a road problem. It doesn't appear the signs are a problem. I don't understand it. It's ridiculous," said Erick Burse with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

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