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Wrong-way I-5 driver identified

A wrong-way driver killed Thursday near Canyonville has been identified by police as Kathleen F. Petersen, 64, of Brookings.

An Oregon State Police press release said police first began to get calls about Petersen before 10 p.m. Thursday, with people saying a 2011, white Mazda 3 was driving erratically in the Grants Pass area, but police were unable to catch up to Petersen.

A short time later, callers told police the vehicle was headed northbound in the southbound lanes of I-5 at milepost 88, near Canyonville. Several vehicles avoided the wrong-way Mazda, including one that was forced off the road, as troopers scrambled to locate it. At milepost 96, the Mazda hit a semi-truck head-on. The truck caught fire and burned at the scene, blocking the freeway for several hours.

The truck driver, Jose Garcia, 41, of Compton Calif., was transported to Mercy Medical Center and treated for a broken arm and unknown other injuries. The reason for Petersen's erratic driving is still under investigation, police said.

OSP was assisted at the scene by the Canyonville South Umpqua Fire Department, Riddle Fire Protection District, Azalea Rural Fire District, Oregon Department of Transportation, Myrtle Creek Police Department and the Douglas County Sheriff's Department, which was first to arrive on-scene. The Brookings Police Department has been assisting OSP in attempting to locate Petersen's next of kin.