Woman drives wrong way before crashing into semi on I-43; arrested for OWI

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Jacqueline Degenhardt

MILWAUKEE -- A wrong-way driver plowed into a semi-trailer truck, shutting down northbound I-43 near Green Tree Road for hours early Friday, Sept. 14. The two vehicles slammed into each other so intense the driver had to be extricated from her car. Milwaukee County sheriff's officials believe she was drunk.

Obliterated and wedged against the guardrail, a Honda Crossover is unrecognizable after the horrible crash. The driver, 54-year-old Jacqueline Degenhardt, was removed and rushed to the hospital. A picture of Degenhardt was provided to media by the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office.

Donna Schweda

"I can't imagine going ten miles on the road the wrong way," said Donna Schweda, wife of injured suspect.

Officials say Degenhardt was spotted traveling southbound in the northbound lane at the Ozaukee County line. As she barreled down I-43, she collided with the semi and her vehicle went sprawling; diesel fuel spilled all over the freeway as the massive trailer separated from its wheels.

"According to the doctors, she has a broken collarbone and a concussion. They put her on a breathing tube," said Schweda.

Wrong-way driver crash on I-43

Wrong-way driver crash on I-43

Donna Schweda and Jacqueline Degenhardt

Schweda says Degenhardt is in an induced coma. The driver of the semi was not injured and fortunately no one else along her path was hurt.

While Schweda hopes for healing, she cautions others:

"It's not worth drinking and driving," Schweda said.

Urging people to not make the same mistake that have the potential of grave consequences.

"I'm just hoping that Jackie will survive and get the treatment she needs," said Schweda.

Wrong-way driver crash on I-43

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office identified the driver as 54-year-old Jacqueline Degenhardt. She was arrested for felony 2nd degree recklessly endangering safety and cited for OWI-1st offense. If convicted on the felony charge, Degenhardt faces up to ten years in prison.

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