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Wrong-Way Driver Said Suicidal

March 29, 2000

FRANKLIN, Ind. (AP) _ The ex-husband of a woman suspected of causing a car crash that killed seven people said she intended to kill herself and the couple’s children.

Vic Kirby said in Tuesday’s Daily Journal of Johnson County that he believed Judy Kirby wanted to prevent him from gaining custody of their children.

Investigators could not explain why Ms. Kirby had driven 1.7 miles in the wrong direction before the fatal collision with a minivan Saturday near Martinsville. She passed four possible turnoffs.

The driver of the minivan and two of his children died, along with three of the Kirbys’ children and a nephew of Ms. Kirby whom she had just adopted as her own son.

Ms. Kirby was one of only two survivors. She was in serious condition today at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

Ms. Kirby had been hospitalized for depression within the last two weeks and had told two sons that she planned to commit suicide, Kirby said.

``Her family is not going to agree with this and what I’m saying, that she meant to do this,″ he said.

Ms. Kirby’s mother and sister acknowledged she had psychological problems, but said she never mentioned killing herself.

``She was crying constantly. She’d just look at you and bust out crying,″ her older sister, Kathy Walker, told the Daily Journal. ``We’ve been watching her day and night.″

Two weeks ago, Ms. Kirby was hospitalized for three days at St. Francis Hospital for ``physical and mental problems,″ Kirby said. Kirby said he did not learn of the suicide comment until after the crash.

Authorities said they were investigating the suicide theory.

``We’re not discounting any theories,″ said sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Scott Hamilton.

Kirby said the couple divorced six years ago and had been locked in a custody dispute over their five children.

Ms. Kirby had custody of 11 children _ the five from her marriage with Kirby, five from another relationship and the nephew she had just adopted.

``She led me to believe she was going to let me have all the kids,″ Kirby said. ``She put me off another week and then this happened.″

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