After conducting interviews with nearly a dozen witnesses, Kingsport police are still unsure of why a city resident was traveling the wrong way on Interstate 26 Saturday evening, causing a head-on collision that killed both her and another motorist.
Kingsport Police Officer Dale Farmer says Lisa M. West, 40, of 380 Crawford Road, is believed to have entered I-26 from the Meadowview Parkway. She accessed interstate from the exit ramp for eastbound lanes, then continued traveling west into oncoming traffic at about 60 mph.
At approximately 8:50 p.m. central dispatch received a call from another motorist, alerting them to the wrong-way driver. Just as officers were being scrambled to the area, and after West had been traveling I-26 for about a mile, the caller advised, "I reckon go ahead and send an ambulance — she just wrecked."
Police say that as West was crossing Bays Mountain she collided with an eastbound 2002 Toyota Camry. Both West and the other driver, Laura S. Duncan, 45, of 701 Westwood Circle, Kingsport, were killed in the head-on impact. Police say neither woman was wearing their seatbelt.
A 2006 Nissan Sentra traveling the correct direction on eastbound lanes swerved to avoid hitting either of the cars, then exited the roadway and overturned. That driver, Kayla Morelock, 19, of 5729 Starlight Road, Kingsport, escaped the incident with only minor injuries.
Farmer says witnesses interviewed by police have relayed that West's car didn't appear to be swerving or behaving erratically. She's believed to have been traveling at a steady pace, between 55 and 65 mph, and paying no heed to other motorists flashing their headlights to get her attention.
West had also lived in Kingsport all her life, according to Farmer, and was presumably familiar with traffic patterns.
Officers located no evidence of drugs at the scene. A full toxicology report will be conducted on both victims, with Kingsport police requesting that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation expedite the lab testing in Knoxville.
Farmer hopes to receive the results of those tests, which will reveal if alcohol or drugs were in the victims' systems, in a month to six weeks.