Australian driver confused by road rules

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Tourist commits "Down Under" blunder

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — A tourist from Australia caused a Sunday accident on U.S. 221 that injured four when he drove on the wrong side of the road, according to a Virginia State Police report.

Lewis Clarkson Puls from Queensland, Australia, had been driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway and then wanted to get to Pulaski by Virginia 100, according to investigating Trooper J.D. Delp. He missed the turn from U.S. 221.

Alerted by the GPS in his rental 2010 Chrysler 300, Puls turned around to go back to 100, but in doing so he started going southbound in the northbound lane. This would have seemed natural to Puls, because Australians drive on the left side of the road.

The Chrysler hit a 1999 Oldsmobile 88, driven by Lila Williams Tolbert of Roanoke, that was headed northbound. Tolbert, 80, and passenger George Edwards Swinney, 92, also of Roanoke and Rosemary Ann Black from the Chrysler were flown by helicopter to Roanoke for treatment. Delp said Monday that Tolbert and Swinney's injuries were serious. Puls was taken to Twin County Regional Hospital for treatment.

Puls is charged with reckless driving.