4 killed in wrong way Hwy 101 collision identified

The San Francisco medical examiner's office released the names of four people who died early Thursday morning in a wrong-way collision on U.S. Highway 101. 

California Highway Patrol said 34-year-old Emilie Ross of Hillsborough, was impaired when she was driving a silver Volkswagen Cabrio southbound in the northbound lanes of Highway 101. 

The crash occurred at 12:24 a.m. just north of Paul Avenue. Several reports came in of a Volkswagen traveling in the wrong direction on the northbound freeway, first at the Interstate 280 junction and then near the Candlestick Park off-ramp.

Ross collided head-on into a Ford Escape taxi cab carrying three people. 

CHP Officer Ben Diaz said, "We're looking at whether seatbelts were used in the taxi collision. It does appear one passenger was ejected."

Officers found that Ross and the taxi driver along with his two passengers, had all sustained fatal injuries, authorities said. 

The two passengers inside the cab have been identified as Mary Miller, 57, of Chicago and Judson Bergman, 62, of Barrington, Illinois. Luggage found at the scene may indicate the couple was heading from SFO. 

The taxi driver was later identified as Berkant Ramadan Ahmed, 42 of San Mateo. Fellow drivers say he was a hardworking father and husband. 

Mustafa Muwaffaq said, "He has a young daughter. Our hearts go out to him and hope his family is okay."

Authorities haven't determined how long Ross was traveling in the wrong direction, but say she was under the influence of alcohol. 

The deadly wreck marks the 25th wrong-way driver collision in the Bay Area this year with 10 of those resulting in 19 deaths, CHP officials said. 

"This is a problem that is affecting the entire Bay Area," said CHP - Golden Gate Division Chief Ernie Sanchez. "Rest assured that the California Highway Patrol will continue to work closely with our 
stakeholders, to include Caltrans, in order to identify and improve the potential on- and off-ramps where motorists are entering freeways traveling in the wrong direction."

Caltrans officials said typically drivers heading the wrong way onto an exit ramp will typically see wrong way signs and red road reflectors. 

Sanchez said it's a lot more common than people think. He added, "In addition, CHP will continue partnering with law enforcement agencies on proactive enforcement and work to identify avenues to prevent motorists from entering freeways from city streets, while driving in the wrong direction."

CHP officials said 70% of wrong way drivers are under the influence. 

UC Davis and Caltrans are working together on a safety study to prevent the problem. The results of that study should be released in the next few months.