Stratford woman recounts Route 8 wrong-way crash, issues warning to drivers
A Stratford woman was critically injured after a wrong-way crash a year ago is warning people to slow down and avoid getting on the wrong side of highways.
Jailisa Reyes, 29, lost her left leg after a drunk driver caused a head-on collision while going the wrong way on Route 8 in Beacon Falls last August.
Reyes hopes that by telling her story, no one will have to go through what she went through.
News 12 Connecticut exclusively obtained state police body cam video that shows first responders rushing a critically injured Reyes to the hospital. A pickup truck had struck the side of her vehicle causing it to flip.
"My car spun," Reyes recalled. She is a 29-year-old single mother with a 9-year-old son. "I remember being so hopeless in the hospital, like, I just... I thought my life was over.”
Records obtained by News 12 Connecticut say 35-year-old Moyan Henry, of Waterbury, was later arrested. Charges against him included driving while intoxicated, going the wrong way on the highway, causing a head-on collision and leaving a path of destruction.
Reyes said her struggles extended far beyond the scene of the accident.
"I had a lot of surgeries. I have one coming up in December," she said.
Her son remembers the long separations from his mother due to those surgeries at the height of the pandemic. He said it broke him down and caused him to cry every time. There's been no shortage of tears, the family said, during what has been a long and painful recuperation.
Officials said there have been 20 wrong-way crashes so far this year in Connecticut. It's a dramatic rise over previous years, which is prompting the state to install flashing beacon warning systems to recognize and then alert wrong-way drivers.
"I'm going to urge the Department of Transportation to take the Connecticut experience, the model we're providing here and implement it nationwide because we can prevent wrong-way crashes," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Reyes said she is determined not to give up and to make a full recovery. She is determined to get back to what she calls "something resembling a normal, happy life."
"It was a hard thing for me for a long, long time," Reyes said. "It still is hard. I'm just learning to cope with it because I have to keep going. I can't just let it bring me down. I have to keep fighting to just learn this new life I have to live."