ST. PAUL, Minn. - A Woodbury man is hospitalized with serious injuries after his car was hit by a wrong-way driver on the freeway early Sunday morning.
"I had time to say, 'Oh boy,' and I tried to swerve," said 64-year-old Randy Carmody from his bed at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. "And I got hammered."
The Minnesota State Patrol says the driver who hit Carmody was first reported driving the wrong way on I-694 in White Bear Lake at 4:22 a.m. Sunday. He headed south in the wrong lanes on I-35E and a trooper stopped him.
When the trooper approached the vehicle, the driver appeared to be under the influence of a drug, according to the state patrol. Before the trooper could grab the keys, the the driver fled, injuring the trooper's arm and again heading the wrong way on I-35E at 80 to 100 miles per hour.
Carmody was on his way to work on I-494 westbound when the driver in a Kia Sportage SUV entered the wrong direction from the 35E ramp, slamming into Carmody's Honda Accord.
"Next thing you know, glass is flying and I’m twirling around," Carmody said. "I firmly believe without my seatbelt, I’d be dead."
Both suspect and victim were brought to Region's Hospital in St. Paul.
"I just hope he’s OK," said Carmody of the other driver. "I’m sure he’s hurt too."
Carmody's response toward the man who nearly killed him is one of compassion.
"That guy’s got enough problems without me hating him or anything," Carmody said. "I just hope the young man can get his life fixed."
As for Carmody himself, he is suffering from a broken wrist, and a cracked sternum and ribs. But he says he's feeling "very, very lucky" to be alive.
"I tell you, God is looking down on me today," he said. "If I wouldn’t have had a seatbelt on, for sure I would have been dead."
Even luckier - Carmody survived a similar experience in 1991. He says a wrong-way driver hit him on I-94 when he was headed home from work. That time, he says, he wasn't really hurt.
"But what are the odds of that happening to a guy twice?" he wonders.
As a religious man, he says he believes there's a reason things happen.
"I’ve got a few years left in me yet," Carmody says. "I’m still kicking pretty good, so I’ll make the most of them."
The wrong-way driver has not been identified by authorities. He has been arrested and will be booked in the Ramsey County Jail when he is released from the hospital.
Wrong-way crashes on divided highways in Minnesota and nearby Wisconsin counties have claimed the lives of at least 14 drivers and passengers within the past 12 months, a KARE 11 analysis shows.