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Investigation reveals more fatalities from wrong-way drivers

Crash total
Posted at 6:02 PM, Mar 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-01 19:18:22-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — KRIS 6 News has learned of two more people who have died on the Harbor Bridge, or U.S. Highway 181, from wrong-way accidents.

Cedar Park resident Taylor Counts had just turned 25 when she was hit head-on by 33-year-old Camilo Espitia on March 29, 2017, at 8:33 p.m.

According to the Corpus Christi Police crash report, Espitia was driving the wrong way (southbound) on the northbound side of the Harbor Bridge, when he collided with Counts.

Espitia's car caught on fire and he was pinned inside. Counts was also pinned in her vehicle. Both drivers were killed instantly, according to the crash report.

The wrong-way driver had a blood alcohol content of .20, according to the Texas Department of Transportation's Crash Records Information System (C.R.I.S.)

In November, immediately after the most recent fatalities, KRIS 6 News began looking into why nothing has been done to protect those who use the bridge.

KRIS 6 News reported in part one of the special investigative report "Facing Danger," that at least five people died from wrong-way accidents on the Harbor Bridge.

The team asked TxDOT for the number of fatalities related to wrong-way crashes over the last ten years and received a response of one death.

6 Investigates has continued digging, using news reports, TxDOT's C.R.I.S. database and police crash reports to verify data.

Harbor Bridge/US 181 Wrong-way accidents

11 crashes
8 deaths
11 serious injuries
2 injuries
5 possible injuries
8 not injured
* between 2015 and 2022

And while the C.R.I.S. database is a free tool, available to the public, that allows anyone to search Texas crash data, 6 Investigates discovered not all wrong-way crashes are included in the database.

Of the crashes the team has uncovered, all but two of the wrong-way drivers live outside of the immediate Corpus Christi area.

KRIS 6 News asked TxDOT a series of questions about safety related to exit ramps on the bridge, any ongoing plans to make these exits safer, and any action taken by TxDOT following fatalities in 2015, 2020 and 2022. We also requested an interview with TxDOT executive director Marc Williams.

TxDOT did not respond to our questions by the time part one aired on Feb. 15. On February 22, 2023, TxDOT answered. But, rather than answering the questions provided by KRIS 6 News, the state agency provided a statement and said all questions were addressed.

To report issues or any complaints with roadways managed by the Texas Department of Transportation, click here.