Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

June 5, 2012

One dies in fiery Hwy. 70 E crash

CROSSVILLE — A Cumberland County man lost his life despite efforts by a witness to free the victim from the wreckage of his burning pickup truck Thursday afternoon.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol identified the victim as Clarence B. Caudill, 47, of rural Cumberland County. He was traveling alone and no other vehicle was involved in the crash.

Caudill was driving a 1986 Chevrolet S14 pickup truck east when he failed to negotiate a curve, ran off the road and down a steep embankment, clipped a utility pole guide wire and slammed head-on into a tree.

Eyewitness James Johnson, a local brick mason, told troopers that the driver of the pickup got between his vehicle and one his girlfriend was driving on Peavine Rd. near the four-way stop.

As the pickup traveled through the Hillbilly Hollow community, it suddenly drove straight off the highway. The crash occurred between the intersections of Hillbilly Hollow Rd. and Dallas Smith Rd. between Crab Orchard and Crossville.

Johnson said he pulled off the road at a nearby gravel area and ran to the truck and tried to get the man out of the vehicle. He found the victim lying in the floorboard of the wrecked truck as fire broke out in the engine compartment of the vehicle.

Both doors were jammed shut by the impact with the tree. Johnson tried to wake the unconscious victim, but had no luck, and he estimates that about 15 to 20 seconds after he reached the pickup, the truck burst into flames.

He added that the heat drove him back and made him abandon his rescue attempts.

Cumberland County Fire Department responded to the scene and quickly extinguished the fire and then used extrication tools to force open the pickup truck's door to recover the body.

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