Wrong-way pursuit of Middletown man highlights problem on Ohio’s highways



State troopers try desperately to end a chase involving a wrong-way driver, after a Middletown man’s wild ride earlier this week on Interstate 71 in Warren County.

RELATED: WATCH: Middletown man arrested after wrong-way pursuit on I-71

News Center 7’s Mike Campbell takes a closer look at the all-too-common problem on Ohio’s highways.

Alongside Interstate 75 in Moraine, police say 21-year-old Abby Michaels of Xenia crossed over and drove the wrong way, fatally striking three members of a Mason family: Tommy and Karen Thompson, and their 10-year-old daughter, Tessa.

RELATED: Police ID suspected wrong-way driver in I-75 crash that killed Mason family

The Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Lebanon Post said in the Tuesday morning case, they worked to catch up to 29-year-old Michael Lee Cooke II after he was reported going the wrong way, and they clocked him at 96 mph in a pickup loaded with wooden pallets.

The dash camera video shows a trooper catch up to Cooke, who speeds up and gets off the highway. Then, he enters the wrong way of an exit ramp. The trooper flips around and parallels the man as he drives the wrong way.

Cooke stops and the trooper crosses over to get to him, when Cooke crosses over to again go the wrong way.



Another trooper passes Cooke in the correct direction, and that trooper switches sides, also in the wrong way, to try to stop Cook. Eventually, he cuts across several lanes and unsuccessfully tries to stop Cooke against the guardrail.

Cooke cuts across the highway in front of an oncoming semi, barely escaping.

The trooper ends the chase, using a NASCAR-style “pit technique” to strike and spin Cooke’s pickup around.

Troopers said they suspect drugs played a role in the chase.

Despite the danger, Cooke somehow did not injure anyone.

>> VIDEO: Wrong-way crash avoided after driver crosses center median on I-75 near Franklin

But sober driving advocates say too many wrong-way crashes involve impaired drivers, and that too many are deadly.

“It’s a life sentence for the person that committed it and a life sentence for the person that lost them,” said Laura Cruea, Ohio director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Cooke is being  held in the Warren County Jail on suspicion of multiple felony and misdemeanor charges, and is next due in court April 9.

Moraine police are preparing evidence to meet soon with prosecutors about the deadly wrong-way crash there.

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