What should you do if you encounter a wrong-way driver?

ORLANDO, Fla. — Central Florida saw a string of wrong-way crashes within just days earlier this year. Although rare, they can be catastrophic when they do happen.


Channel 9′s Alexa Lorenzo spoke with Marcus Frutchey, a 27-year-old man who survived a wrong-way crash Oct. 29 on Interstate 4 in Seminole County.

Both vehicles were traveling at 60 mph when they collided.

Frutchey said he remembers the strong smell of smoke and being in horrific pain that day.

“I’m not dying in this car today,” he said, recounting the nightmarish collision. “We’re getting out of this car. I’m not dying.”

His mother, Sandra Frutchey, had no idea what had happened to her son when she walked into his hospital room.

Read: Wrong-way driver killed in crash on Interstate 4 off-ramp

“I walked into that room, and he’s on the ventilator,” she said. “We don’t have any information about him yet.”

She said his doctors told her that he had the worst abdominal tear they had ever seen as well as 13 broken ribs, a broken back, a broken sternum and a punctured lung.

“He said, ‘It’s going to be a process to put Marcus back together,’ and that he had to leave him open,” Sandra Frutchey said. “It’s called ‘battlefield technology.’”

Marcus Frutchey’s life was permanently altered.

“I couldn’t feed myself,” he said. “I couldn’t brush my teeth, clothe myself.”

Read: Woman killed, another driver seriously injured in wrong-way crash on I-4

His progress in the last five months has been miraculous.

“I call him ‘Miracle Marcus,’” Sandra Frutchey said. “All the other (wrong-way) accidents we keep hearing about ..., the people are either brain damaged or dead.”

Can more be done to prevent wrong-way crashes?

Wrong-way vehicle detection systems are in place across Florida, including at 59 of the Central Florida Expressway Authority’s ramps.

“We want to save lives with this technology,” Brian Hutchings, a CFX spokesman. “And we know we can.”

Read: Woman drove the wrong-way on I-4 for 15 minutes before trooper crashed his cruiser into her car

The agency plans to add detection systems at 29 more ramps, covering all 125 miles of its network of toll road by the end of 2025.

The CFX system detected almost 2,000 wrong-way drivers between February 2015 and February 2024, according to records obtained by Channel 9.

Of those drivers, 87% of them turned around.

CFX said it has started a pilot program to track the success of newly installed illuminated pavement markers.

“We identified eight ramp locations that had a higher incidence rate of wrong-way driving,” Hutchings said.

The markers, which are solar powered, shine bright red at night.

The wrong-way driver who hit Marcus Frutchey’s vehicle told troopers that she fell asleep at the wheel.

It is unknown if technology could have prevented that crash.

Marcus Frutchey said that he is grateful to be alive.

“I believe everything happens for a reason,” he said. “There’s a reason why I didn’t pass or have brain damage. God was looking over me.”

The Florida Highway Patrol said that motorists should reduce their speed, move to the right lane and exit the interstate should they spot a wrong-way driver or read an overhead sign message warning of one.

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Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly, WFTV.com

Jason Kelly joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2014. He serves as the station's Digital Executive Producer.