Imagine driving down the highway and watching headlights get closer and closer as another driver barrels right at you heading the wrong way.
Connecticut State Police warn that scenario is playing out nearly every weekend, and is just one more danger tied to a dramatic spike in the number of DWIs in some sections of Connecticut.
When Trooper Thomas Krynski goes out on patrol, he knows he has to be ready for anything.
“You have to always have your eyes open and have a good situational awareness at the same time,” Krynski said.
But one thing Trooper Krynski, who is based in Hartford’s Troop H, can just about always count on is that he’ll deal with impaired drivers.
So far, in 2016, DWIs are up more than 75 percent in Troop H’s territory from last year.
“We've been seeing a lot of impaired driving not only alcohol but also drugs,” Krynski said.
The epidemic prompted Trooper Krynski to become one of just 30 drug recognition experts in Connecticut.
Investigators bring him in to figure out what type of drug impaired drivers have been abusing behind the wheel.
“It's a tough thing to watch and see that people actually do these kinds of things. And harm themselves and other people,” Krynski said.
One night, Trooper Krynski agreed to let Eyewitness News ride along on his shift, and just a few hours into it, he got a call that changed everything.
“We have a wrong way driver. Car is heading towards Hartford in the HOV lane in the Hartford area,” Krynski said.
An allegedly impaired driver was putting many lives at risk by heading east on I-84 west near exit 58 in East Hartford.
Krynski was one of the closest troopers and knows he must do whatever is necessary to stop the driver.
“Because somebody else can hit the car head on. Some innocent family and they could sustain fatal injuries from an accident,” Krynski said.
Trooper Krynski shot down the highway at speeds of 130 miles per hour, but fortunately he didn’t have to use his car to block the highway because another investigator successfully slowed him down by deploying stop sticks.
The driver finally stopped near exit 65 in Vernon.
Krynski was one of the first troopers on the scene and because of his expertise, he deals with the driver.
“I smelled an odor of alcohol his eyes are red and glassy. He admitted to drinking so we're going to place him under the field sobriety test at this point,” Krynski said.
The driver, John Sifuentes of Manchester, failed the sobriety test and was arrested.
He faced multiple charges, including DWI, reckless endangerment, and driving the wrong way on the highway.
Thanks to Trooper Krynski, and his fellow investigators, nobody was injured.
“That's the whole point of it and why we're doing our jobs the best we can,” Krynski said.
Connecticut State Police said they do not keep records of exactly what drugs intoxicated drivers have been abusing, but investigators believe the heroin epidemic is a big part of the problem.
They also said they have seen a recent spike in wrong way crashes.
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