Wrong way I-25 driver suffered post-traumatic stress
COLORADO SPRINGS ” A wrong-way driver killed last week in a violent collision on Interstate 25 was a veteran of the war in Iraq who returned home suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, friends say.
Jessica Rich, 24, was driving south in the northbound lanes of I-25 about 10:25 p.m. Thursday in Colorado Springs when her 1996 Volkswagen Jetta slammed into a 2003 Chevy Suburban SUV. The collision killed Rich and injured four people in the Suburban.
While police say they have not determined what may have led to the crash, or if alcohol or drugs were a factor, Rich’s friends say she was medically discharged from the Army in 2005 and came back from Iraq suffering from PTSD.
She was a heavy-equipment operator in the 52nd Engineering Battalion in Iraq and was included in a Denver Post story in 2004 about soldiers who had been assigned to a medical hold unit at Fort Carson. She had been medically evacuated from Iraq eleven months earlier, diagnosed with lower-back pain and PTSD.
A friend, Makayla Crenshaw, told the Post that Rich was waiting this year to enter a center for PTSD treatment. She said Rich, who had a 7-year-old son, never got over her experiences in the war, including the suicide of a fellow soldier that she witnessed.
“She was having nightmares still, up until this point, flashbacks and anxiety and everything, the whole bucket of fun,” Crenshaw told the paper. “She said it was really hard to get over because she couldn’t get any help from anybody.”
Another friend, Alan Hartmann, said he spent time with Rich in a medical unit and knew she was struggling.
Crenshaw said Rich may have had some other issues before enlisting, but her service in Iraq probably made her conditions worse.
“I didn’t see it ending like this,” she said.
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