LARGO — Sandra Schrotenboer was driving home from work Monday night when a van suddenly appeared in front of her and other cars on U.S. 19.
The 2000 Plymouth Voyager was going northbound in the southbound lanes. And it didn't look like it was going to stop.
"First it started in the right-hand lane, then moved to the center," Schrotenboer, 55, of St. Petersburg said Tuesday. "I thought … 'I'm going to die.' "
Moments later, about 8:30 p.m., Schrotenboer watched as the Voyager's driver, George Wesley Ivey, 37, of St. Petersburg, plowed head on into a 2005 Suzuki Vitara driven by Jasmin V. Keyes, 28, of Largo.
With cars coming up behind her and an accident unfolding in front of her, Schrotenboer, a supervisor at a Clearwater call center, did what she could to prevent further wreckage.
"I turned the wheel and hit the median head on," she said.
Keyes' Suzuki still collided with Schrotenboer's 1998 Dodge Caravan, now totaled.
Ivey, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from his van and pronounced dead at the scene. Keyes was taken to Bayfront Medical Center with serious injuries. Schrotenboer walked away with bumps and bruises.
Authorities on Tuesday said they may never know exactly what caused Ivey to drive the wrong way on the highway.
Investigators from the Florida Highway Patrol believe he had been on the on-ramp near Ulmerton Road then made a U-turn into southbound traffic.
An autopsy is scheduled, but toxicology results could take months.
"It was the most traumatic thing I've ever experienced," Schrotenboer said.