KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — Last October, Michigan State Police said they received several phone calls about a driver heading the wrong way on I-94. It was dark that morning, just after midnight. Police were on the scene in a matter of minutes.
“She was westbound in the eastbound lanes,” said MSP 1st LT. Dale Hinz during an interview at the Paw Paw Post. “We actually were able to stop traffic with the help of some local agencies.”
Dash camera video was recently released, showing cars and semi-trucks pulled over to the side. Police learned that she’d driven on the highway for over 10 miles from 9th street in Kalamazoo to just east of Paw Paw. The trooper that pulled her over said that he came almost “nose-to-nose” with her.
“Thankfully she came to a stop without striking the trooper vehicle,” said Lt. Hinz. “She had slowed down greatly by the time his vehicle was approaching her.”
The driver, identified as 63-year-old Toni Buller of Portage, came to a complete stop only a few feet away from the trooper’s patrol car. Upon arrival, Lt. Hinz said police noticed that she was intoxicated.
“The individual in this case was twice the legal limit,” said Lt. Hinz. “Obviously a dangerous dangerous combination when you get behind the wheel with that blood alcohol level.”
Lt. Hinz said Buller told police she was on her way home in Portage. But was clearly well passed the exit. That morning she was arrested for drunk driving.
“We sometimes see this where drivers will get on the freeway for whatever reason and drive the wrong direction,” said Lt. Hinz. “And obviously as we’ve seen here in a couple recent incidents in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, that they can have some tremendously tragic results.”
In mid-March, a family of three drove northbound on southbound lanes on US-131. Seconds after coming down the ramp, they were struck head-on and killed. Lt. Hinz said wrong-way driving isn't something they typically see on the road, even among drunk drivers. But when it happens, he recommends pulling over.
“Pull over to the right as quickly as possible,” said Lt. Hinz. “Stop your vehicle and we will obviously get calls on that. We will help you get righted in traffic.”