Politician helps wrong-way driver, frees up traffic jam

An elected official stepped in to save the day when a wrong-way driver headed into oncoming traffic on one of the city’s busiest roads.

Milo Smith, who represents Columbus as a Republican in the Indiana House of Representatives, was driving west on State Road 46 on Friday afternoon with about 30 other motorists when a driver entered the westbound lanes of traffic while traveling east.

All three lanes of traffic stopped. The male driver traveling the wrong way also stopped but did not move out of the way, Smith said.

Fearing that the driver was either intoxicated or experiencing a medical emergency, Smith pulled his car up to the wrong-way vehicle to assess the situation.

Smith got out of his car and asked the driver of he could roll down the window, but the man said no.

“I thought he might be afraid of me because I was wearing a suit,” Smith said.

After speaking with the driver, Smith said, he was able to persuade him to turn his wheel to the left to move the car out of the way, although he narrowly avoided hitting Smith’s own car, the representative said.

Smith then walked into the three lanes of traffic, held up his hands and, much to his surprise, persuaded the other drivers on the road to stop.

“It was miraculous,” Smith said. “The police officer told me, ‘That’s better than they do for me.’”

After the wrong-way driver turned his car around, Smith persuaded the man to turn off the engine, and a Columbus police officer opened the vehicle’s door. Smith then reached inside and removed the keys from the ignition to prevent the driver from attempting to restart the car.

The man, who was disoriented, was placed in an ambulance and taken to Columbus Regional Hospital.

Smith said he did not smell alcohol on the man’s breath and suspected that the driver’s confusion might have been the result of a medical issue. No injuries were reported in the incident.

Some residents are praising Smith for his potentially lifesaving actions, but the representative said he only did what any other citizen would have done to protect his neighbors.

“It wasn’t anything special,” he said.

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.