Close call: Wrong-way on interstate prompts reckless charge

An evening out with a friend in Crozet ended with a close call for a Charlottesville traveler headed eastbound on I-64 on Saturday night, August 3, after encountering another driver going the wrong way on the interstate.

"I see these headlights coming toward me," says Belmont resident Jenny Mead, who didn't realize what was happening until the other vehicle had passed. 

"Fortunately, it was in the other lane— the passing lane," says Mead, who quickly exited the highway and called 911.

"They told me there had been many calls," she says. Shaken by the close call with a possible high-speed, head-on collision, she attempted for several days to find out the circumstances behind the wrong-way driver.

"I couldn't get any answers," she says.

According to Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller, the driver of the wrong-way white, 2004 Kia was 84-year-old Albemarle County resident Frances Shisler, who entered the interstate at the Shadwell exit and continued on against the flow of traffic for six miles until she was stopped by police at exit 118.

"I realized as soon as I did it," said Shisler, reached by phone. She said she'd been to the Moose Lodge east of Charlottesville and explained that she continued driving west even as 70-mph traffic rushed toward her because "there was no place to turn around."

"I've been driving since I was 10 years old, and this is my first ticket," said an irate Shisler, noting that no drivers that night— including her— had reason to fear.

"God above was riding with me," she said, telling the reporter who'd called her that the interview was over.

"I think you need to change your cotton picking ways," she said, before hanging up.

Shisler was charged with reckless driving in the incident and a hearing was scheduled for August 20 as this paper was going to press. According to court records, the charge was dropped. A message left with the Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney's office was not immediately returned.


Older people seem to have problems driving on the Interstate, that could have easily been a deadly mistake. Can't your license restrict you from driving on the Interstate? If so, after driving 6 miles the wrong way she definitely needs that restriction.

A lifelong hobby of mine is scanning. Scanning rescue squads, Pegasus helicopter transports, fire calls, the Virginia state police, and local police calls. This is not an isolated event. It happens on Interstate 64 very often in this area for some reason. I thought drunk drivers pretty much had a monopoly on going the wrong direction on Interstate 64, but I guess not now!!

"God above was riding with me," she said, telling the reporter who'd called her that the interview was over.

"I think you need to change your cotton picking ways," she said, before hanging up.

Giggles ....

Yes, fun morning giggles! Glad no one was hurt.

She could have killed or seriously injured someone. I love how she believes that no drivers that night had anything to fear.....I've been in a head-on crash on the interstate and it took me 4 months to recover. I would absolutely be afraid of her driving.

Also, there was no place to turn around?? How about you pull over, ya know, instead of driving 6 more miles?

I hope they take her license away. She sounds crazytown

"Jesus, take the wheel." Not a good way to drive.

The problem is that exit off of 64 at Shadwell - where 250 and 64 meet.

I was involved in a head-on collision (the only one in my life) at that intersection when a 17 year old (had her license for three months) took a left turn across 250 trying to get onto 64 heading east by going up the westbound off-ramp. I was travelling westbound on 250 towards Pantops and even if it hadn't been an illegal left for her, I still would have had the ROW.

I was pretty stunned, but fine - it totalled my F150. The police said to me at the time, "people are turning up there all the time"..and as we were all standing around waiting for the accident cleanup, another driver blew through the intersection and made the same wrong turn!!!

There is something about the crest of the hill and the placement of the signs on the overpass is very misleading to drivers.

Maybe Jesus built her hotrod?

This happened to me on a Saturday morning about a month ago in the southbound lane of Rt 29 just north of Woods Mill. Someone came around the curve heading north. It definitely shakes you up.

Suzie...she's just old, not crazy. You will be one day as well.

No place to turn around? With the width of that road and its shoulders a U-Turn would be duck soup, but I guess she wasn't thinking outside the box.
Maybe "God" will tell the old fool it's time to turn in the keys...

I am amazed no-one was killed. No matter how old and confused you were, why the hell wouldn't you pull over if you ALREADY KNEW YOU WERE DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF A 65MPH HIGHWAY?? Six miles, people. She should not have a license.

The dearth of options for those who can't or prefer not to drive in this country is astounding. What do public transportation opponents think? That no one ever gets old, goes blind, or otherwise becomes unable to drive? Do we just flip them the bird and say "Sucks to be you"?

I blame the parents!