Vermont State Police responded to reports of two wrong-way drivers in less than 12 hours earlier this week, bringing to 22 the total number of such reports troopers have received so far this year.
On Tuesday afternoon, a tractor trailer was spotted traveling south on northbound I-89 between Williamstown and Randolph.
The driver, identified as Daniel F. Sheehan Jr., 63, of North Grafton, Massachusetts, was arrested after he allegedly drove 10 miles on the wrong side of the interstate.
Sheehan faces charges of driving under the influence and gross negligent operation. He’s scheduled to appear in court July 24.
“We got lucky yesterday,” said Vermont State Police Lt. Tara Thomas.
Police and motorists were lucky early Wednesday, too. Just before 2 a.m., troopers in Middlesex received reports of another wrong-way driver on I-89, this one traveling north in the southbound lanes.
Police say Kenneth Lanpher, 48, of Morrisville was stopped near mile marker 61 and arrested on suspicion of being intoxicated behind the wheel. He’s due in court July 25.
In Tuesday’s mid-afternoon incident, Thomas said a few cars were forced off the road.
“It’s a split second decision that these people are unfortunately faced with,” said Thomas.
One of those drivers forced to act quickly was Lauren Walsh, a member of Local 22 and Local 44’s sports team.
“I hit the gas really hard got into the right lane really just in time,” she said. “As soon as I got in the right lane, the tractor trailer that had been going the wrong way sped by me.”
Thomas said roughly a third of the 22 reports of wrong-way drivers have been verified, and involved an impaired driver or elderly person. While police were unable to identify a culprit in the other reported cases, Thomas says drivers need to be on high alert.
“Start with not being distracted,” she said. “You cannot assume people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing on the highways.”
A message that’s been reinforced for Walsh.
“If I had even been changing the song on my phone or looked down at a notification, really anything,” she said, “I would not have had time to get out of the way.”