DES MOINES (AP) -- A teenager who died in a traffic accident last week likely took a wrong turn at an intersection where an upside-down highway sign pointed in the wrong direction, officials said.
Hannah Hupke, 17, of Carlisle, was killed last Thursday on U.S. Highway 65/69 south of Des Moines when her car collided with a pickup truck after she drove down the wrong way on the four-lane highway.
A one-way sign at the intersection of Highway 65/69 and a Warren County road, where Hupke probably turned, was upside-down and incorrectly pointed north instead of south, said Bill Lusher, field services coordinator for the Iowa Department of Transportation in Des Moines.
Lusher said this week that he could not say why the one-way sign was upside-down, but suspected vandalism.
"It is hard for the DOT staff to believe that it was installed upside-down originally," Lusher said.
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The sign was installed in 1993, he said.
The DOT has not determined whether vandals turned the sign over, Lusher said.
"We can only make some assumptions because we don't know for sure, but it certainly is suspect," he said. "We just don't have enough information."
Lusher said that to change the sign, a person would need a ladder or other means to reach it at about 10 to 12 feet off the ground. The signs are held in place with two sets of ordinary nuts, bolts and washers.
State maintenance crews repaired the sign on Monday so that it points in the right direction.