DES MOINES, Iowa -- The man driving one of two vehicles involved in a fatal wrong-way crash on I-80 that killed four people, including two Des Moines police officers, had a blood-alcohol content nearly three times the legal limit when the crash occurred.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: End of Watch
The accident happened around 12:30 a.m. March 26 in the eastbound lanes of I-80 near mile marker 117. Officials say Ben Beary was driving a vehicle headed westbound in the eastbound lanes when he struck a Des Moines police SUV head-on. Beary was killed along with officers Susan Farrell and Carlos Puente-Morales. The woman the officers were transporting, Tosha Hyatt, also died in the crash.
A report from the Iowa State Patrol said the Ford Taurus driven by Beary, 25, of Knoxville, entered the eastbound lanes of the interstate at the Grand Prairie Parkway off-ramp near Waukee. Beary's vehicle was traveling at a speed of approximately 102 mph at the time of impact, the Des Moines Police unit was traveling at 79 mph. The speed limit for the area of the interstate is 70 mph.
Investigators determined there was no braking by either vehicle at the time of the crash and that the Des Moines officers could not see the Ford Taurus until just before impact.
Toxicology tests show that Beary's blood alcohol concentration at the time of the crash was 0.223%. The report also showed Beary had recently used marijuana.
Investigation Details March 26 Crash
Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Nathan Ludwig said video evidence showed that Beary arrived at the Keg Stand at about 6 p.m. March 25 and left about midnight.
"The crash happened at 12:32 a.m., so his whereabouts of what happened between 12 and 12:30 are unknown," Ludwig said.
Some have raised concerns about the confusion at the Waukee interchange, saying it may have played a factor in the crash.
The investigation disagrees.
"The exit is clearly marked," Ludwig said." Driving the wrong way on the interstate is nothing new. People usually get turned around in time."
He said the investigation shows that the reason for Beary driving the wrong way is attributed to the alcohol and marijuana in his system.
Ludwig called it a "violent crash."
“At 102 mph and 79 mph, you have 181 mph of closing speed. That would support the fact that there was no braking on either vehicle because they just didn’t have time to see it. Then obviously, the terrain and the location, at the top of the crest of the hill. They didn’t even see it coming," he said.