Wrong-way driver was drunk during Iowa crash that killed 4
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A 25-year-old man was very drunk and traveling at more than 100 mph when he drove the wrong way on a busy interstate last month and collided head-on with a Des Moines police car, killing himself, two officers and a prisoner they were transporting, investigators revealed Wednesday.
Benjamin Beary’s blood alcohol content after the March 26 crash on Interstate 80 west of Des Moines was 0.22, which is nearly three times the legal driving limit of 0.08, the Iowa Department of Public Safety said. Investigators determined that he was driving 102 mph when he struck the squad car and that he had recently used marijuana.
Though they didn’t specify in their report if they think Beary was high on marijuana when the early-morning crash happened, investigators concluded that Beary’s “high level of impairment” resulted in him driving the wrong way.
Beary’s family released a statement shortly after the investigation results were made public.
“In our hearts we had hoped for a different explanation for the night’s events,” the family wrote. “But the reality is that Ben’s level of intoxication led a good person to make a choice that left a wake of grief for our family and, unforgivably, three others as well.”
In addition to Beary, officers Susan Farrell and Carlos Puente-Morales, and a prisoner, Tosha Hyatt, were killed in the collision. The officers were driving Hyatt from Council Bluffs to Des Moines.
The investigation further revealed that the police car was traveling at 79 mph in a 70 mph zone.
Iowa State Patrol Technical Investigators determined that neither of the two vehicles braked before the crash. They say the collision happened near the crest of a small incline and the officers didn’t see Beary’s car until just before the collision.
The investigation found that Beary merged onto the interstate using a diverging diamond shaped interchange that opened in Waukee last year and that some people have complained is confusing. Officials said the ramps were properly marked.