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Cable barriers fail to keep vehicle from crossing over in fatal Edmond wreck

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EDMOND, Okla. - They’re supposed to prevent a vehicle from crossing over into oncoming traffic.

But, the cable barriers along I-35 near Covell in Edmond failed to do that Sunday afternoon.

A man driving northbound on I-35 there smashed through the cable barrier into southbound traffic.

He hit a minivan head on, killing Philip Hess, 43, and a 2-year-old girl.

“I heard he was coming extremely fast, northbound. So, I don’t know what those barriers are supposed to hold back,” said Dena Porter.

Porter said she didn’t see the driver smash through the cable barrier but she saw him barreling toward her, head on.

She narrowly avoided him and saw the collision with the other vehicle in her rearview mirror.

“That was the worst part of course of this accident is hearing, you know, that two people lost their life in it,” Porter said.

“Incidents like this are very rare with the cable barriers. Like I said, most of the time, they do exactly what they’re supposed to do,” said Captain Paul Timmons with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Troopers said they weren’t able to find any witnesses who could tell them exactly how the vehicle made it through the barrier.

“How it got across the cable barriers, I don’t know,” Timmons said. “I think everything probably happened so fast that, you know, people were trying to get out of the way.”

“It’s a very tough thing, especially when you have a great system in place and this happens,” said Terry Angier with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

ODOT officials said the driver plowed down anywhere from 7 to 12 of the cable barrier posts.

The barriers run from 2nd to Sorghum Mill in Edmond and were installed in 2008.

This is the first time a vehicle has crossed through them in this area.

It has happened elsewhere, though.

“Some can go through, frankly, most of it. It’s not even the size necessarily of the vehicle. It’s the angle they hit it at from an engineering perspective. It’s the speed,” Angier said.

Officials do know the driver was speeding, and they said these cable barriers can’t always compensate for reckless driving.

ODOT officials said there is a less than 2 percent cross over rate with our cable barriers.

And, even the vendors of the barriers, when they were installed, told them this is not a 100 percent guarantee.

The man who crossed over the barriers is identified as David Stephen Blair II.

He and his passenger remained hospitalized Monday afternoon.

Blair was listed in critical condition.