Witness says wrong-way driver who put woman in coma, nearly crashed into him, too

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PLEASANT VALLEY, Mo. -- A woman remained in critical condition Friday evening after she was hit by a car whose driver was headed the wrong-way on I-35 near Pleasant Valley early Friday morning.

The woman, Crystal Beckett, 33, is in a coma with severe head and brain trauma, according to her family. Both her legs are also shattered.

Police say the 23-year-old driver was spotted by several motorists driving the wrong way in downtown Kansas City shortly before 4:00 a.m.

Twelve miles later, he crashed into Beckett's car near I-35 and Pleasant Valley Road.

"He was on the wrong side and he was in the center lane and I was on the inside lane," said Stephen Kesner, a witness.

Kesner said he saw the driver by the downtown Commerce Bank time-and-temperature sign. He works at Stone Manufacturing in downtown Kansas City and often worries about drunk drivers being out when he's headed into work at 4:00 a.m.

Kesner says the car came so close to him Friday morning, that he could have reached out and touched it.

"There was nowhere to go because at that particular spot there is no shoulder, so I was at the mercy of whoever was driving that car.," Kesner said. "All I kept watching was the headlights so if they were going to come at me I could turn and try to get out of his way."

Police said they received several calls about a wrong-way driver traveling north in the southbound lanes on I-35 near Parvin Road. About 10 minutes later police located the car, but unfortunately it was after the crash had occurred.

The Missouri Highway Patrol continues to investigate the crash and said it appeared both the driver and his passenger were impaired. The driver had not yet been charged on Friday evening.

"Every once in awhile you start shaking a bit, you know, because I realize what could have happened," said Kesner. "Somebody was up there watching me and it was an experience I never thought I'd have and I hope I will never have again.. or anybody."

Southbound lanes of I-35 were closed for about two hours while crews worked to clear the scene.

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