MANCHESTER, Conn. (WTNH) – A woman has died following a fatal wrong-way crash on I-291 East in Manchester, which shut down the highway Monday morning.

At 11:45 p.m. on Sunday evening, the South Windsor Fire Department said it was dispatched to a two-car collision on I-291 East just before Exit 5.

According to the accident report, a tractor-trailer had been traveling eastbound down I-291. A 2015 Toyota was traveling the wrong way down that same road, in the same lane as the tractor-trailer. The Toyota struck the trailer head-on.

The tractor-trailer came to a final stop against the left side concrete barrier with its trailers blocking both travel lanes, and the Toyota stopped in the left lane of the highway.

Officials on the scene noted the tractor-trailer had serious front-end damage, and the Toyota was severely damaged as well. Both vehicles needed to be towed from the scene.

The tractor-trailer driver was transported to Hartford Hospital for an evaluation, according to state police. The trailer driver is fine.

In the Toyota, the female driver was found by police, who said she had serious injuries. She was later pronounced dead on the scene. The victim was identified by officers as Samantha Jo Smith, 31, from Windsor Locks.

There was a large amount of debris on the highway following the collision, and about 50 gallons of diesel were leaking from the tractor-trailer, police said.

We are seeing a lot of wrong-way drivers this year. For instance, the day after Memorial Day, two New Haven women died going the wrong way on the Route 82 connector in Haddam.

“We’ve already recorded more wrong-way driving crashes in the first half of this year than we typically see in an entire year,” said Eric Jackson, the executive director of the Connecticut Transportation Institute at UConn.

In March, a driver going the wrong way on I-84 in Plainville died in a crash. In April, a wrong way driver on I-84 in East Hartford hit a state police cruiser as the trooper was trying to pull him over.

In May, the same thing happened on I-91 in Hartford. The collision with the cruiser was caught on dashcam video. A driver on Route 8 in Seymour caught a similar incident on video just last month.

Those last three incidents all ended with the wrong way drivers charged with driving under the influence. Jackson said that is almost always the case.

“Over the last six years, we’ve had maybe two out of the 25 crashes were not an impaired individual,” Jackson said. “So, the vast majority are at a BAC of, most of the time, two to three times the legal limit.”

That is the only way a driver could miss all of the signs the state has put up telling drivers when they are going the wrong way. Police have a simple plea.

“Please drink responsibly,” said Trooper Pedro Muniz of the Connecticut State Police. “Set one of those designated drivers. Use a rideshare program such as Uber or Lyft.”

State police are asking anybody who was in the vicinity of last night’s crash, especially anybody with a working dashboard camera, to contact them.

The case remains under investigation, according to police. Witnesses can contact Trooper Michael Dean at (860) 534-1098 or email him via: