An alleged drunk driver going the wrong way on the Capital Beltway started a chain-reaction crash that sent six people to the hospital, according to Virginia State Police.

Troopers were sent to Interstate 495 near Braddock Road shortly after 3 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day for the report of a Nissan Leaf traveling south in the northbound lanes, police said. Seconds after troopers were dispatched, the Nissan struck a BMW SUV head-on, sending debris across the freeway, police said.

The driver and passenger of the BMW got out of the car and were standing near it when a Honda Civic heading north hit their vehicle. The occupants of the BMW were struck and sent to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The Nissan ran off the road into a guardrail. The driver was taken to a hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life threatening. The Nissan driver, whom police identified only as a Fairfax County man, has been charged with driving under the influence.

A total of five vehicles, including two that had been struck by debris from the initial crash, were involved in the incident that sent six to Inova Fairfax Hospital.