Driver continues to recover after deadly wrong-way crash on I-75

By: Elizabeth Dorsett Email
By: Elizabeth Dorsett Email

The investigation continues into a deadly wrong-way crash on Interstate 75 in Madison County.

The crash happened early Friday morning in the southbound lanes, near Exit 83, south of Richmond.

Investigators say 38-year-old Joseph Vardeman, of Corbin, was driving a van in the wrong direction, when he hit a car with two women inside.

A passenger in the car, 26-year-old Amy Adkins, of East Peoria, Illinois, was killed, as was Vardeman.

The driver of the car, 25-year-old Megan Crawford, of Metamora, Illinois, is now listed in critical condition at UK Hospital.

Police say around 4 a.m. Friday, Vardeman van entered I-75 from exit 83, but went northbound in the southbound lanes.

Truck driver Michael Althauser was one of the first people to drive up on the crash.

"There wasn't a whole lot left of either of the vehicles," Althauser said. "The nose up was pushed pretty much all the way into the interior of the car."

"Both vehicles were completely demolished," Madison County Coroner Jimmy Cornelison said.

Vardeman owned a painting business in London. While Cornelison says the investigation continues, he does not believe drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash. Now, along with police, neighbors are wondering how this happened.

"He was a hard worker, just trying to make ends meet," Michael Allen said of his neighbor.

He says Vardeman moved in across the street about three months ago. While he says he didn't know him well, he describes Vardeman as kind and giving.

"He was always asking me if I needed anything and if I did to ask him," Allen said.

Allen says Vardeman had a girlfriend who visited with her 10 or 11 year old son often from Knoxville. He says he feels especially bad for her since he thought they were planning to get married.

"It's so sad," Rose Mitchell, another neighbor said, upon learning Vardeman's death.

She and Allen both say the 38-year-old traveled often for painting jobs and may have been on his way to Louisville this morning when the accident happened.

Investigators aren't sure why Vardeman entered the interstate in the wrong direction.

The crash shut down all three southbound lanes of Interstate 75 for about three hours.

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