Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

March 5, 2013

Crossville woman killed in Knoxville crash

Thompson was dedicated educator, cancer survivor and a Crossville business woman

CROSSVILLE — A Crossville woman who was loved and admired by family, friends and coworkers alike was killed in a tragic accident last Thursday afternoon as she paid her bill at a Knoxville restaurant.

Known affectionately as Mrs. Debbie by both students and staff, Deborah Thompson, 58, was a cancer survivor, Bledsoe County Middle School principal and was co-owner of Thompson T.V. in Crossville with her husband, Elvin. She has served the Bledsoe County school system in a variety of positions for more than 20 years.

"I would like to thank Mrs. Debbie’s family for sharing her with us. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time. Mrs. Debbie was the perfect middle school principal. She loved and accepted everyone. She has left a footprint on all of our hearts,” Jennifer Terry, Bledsoe County director of schools said.

Thompson had taken the day off from school last Thursday and made a visit to Knoxville with her husband, according to Terry.

The two had just finished eating at The Tomato Head restaurant and were paying their bill when a speeding car crashed through the front of the restaurant and struck Mrs. Debbie. Her husband was not seriously injured by the impact.

She was transported to the University of Tennessee Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

Melissa Reel, BCMS assistant principal, said, “Mrs. Debbie Thompson was truly one of the most wonderful people I have ever known. She was loving, caring, inspirational and kind.  She was always concerned with the well-being of others. Mrs. Debbie always made every student, teacher or staff member feel welcome and important. We are all better people for knowing her.”

According to Thompson's biography on the Bledsoe County Middle School website, she graduated from Cumberland County High School in 1972 and began her teaching career as a special education teacher at Martin Junior High School in 1978.

The Knoxville News Sentinel (KNS) reported the driver of the car, Dewayne Edward Kelley, 53, a retired supervising U.S. probation officer with the federal court system, was driving a Chrysler 300 sedan that sped through the parking lot off Kingston Pike, hit the concrete wall outside the Tomato Head restaurant and crashed into the business. Kelley has multiple sclerosis, his lawyer, Jim Andrews, said.

Kelley spent the majority of his career serving crime victims before taking a medical retirement in 2009, according to Andrews. Kelley was also taken to UT Medical Center, where he was treated and released.

“I’m just so sorry for the family,” Kelley said Friday when reached by phone by KNS.

The crash occurred around 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the Gallery Shopping Center at 7240 Kingston Pike, according to Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk.

Andrews said whether Kelley’s multiple sclerosis played a part in the accident is “for police investigators to determine.” No charges have been filed. Police said there was no indication alcohol was involved.

“He’s devastated by this,” Andrews said. “His whole life has been about helping victims.”

Police still are investigating the cause of the crash.

The Tomato Head staff organized and held a vigil in front of the restaurant to honor Thompson after closing Sunday night.

“We will use a portion of the sales from this weekend to create a memory of Debbie, we hope in her hometown or at the school where she was such a positive force,” A Tomato Head Facebook page posting states.

Several people posted notes of appreciation to The Tomato Head staff on its Facebook page.

Amanda Angel  posted, "I am a long-time fan of Tomato Head as well as a teacher at BCMS. I cannot understand what happened there yesterday to one of the most wonderful women I have ever known. I cannot even begin to describe the light that she was in so many ways. Our school and community are heartbroken and its difficult to imagine life and BCMS without Ms. Debbie. I wanted to say that and to also say how much I appreciate your gesture of donating some of tonight's proceeds to honor Ms. Debbie in some way."

Rachel Martin posted, "Our community is very much appreciative for this act of kindness in the wake of such a tragedy. Miss Debbie was the most amazing principal I've ever had the pleasure of teaching for or even seeing in action. Our students and my fellow faculty members thank you for being so respectful."

Thompson was named principal of Bledsoe County Middle School two years ago. Terry said Thompson has taught at the school since 1999.

Thompson is survived by her husband, Elvin; son, Elliot; daughter, Courtney; and two brothers, Joe Paul and George Kington.

Funeral services for Thompson are set for 8 p.m. Tuesday at Bilbrey Funeral Home in Crossville. Burial will be private for family only.

The Thompson family asks that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to help build a new sign at the middle school and go toward completing other projects in her name.

Terry said, "The staff and students of Bledsoe County thank Mrs. Debbie Thompson’s family for thinking of our needs during this difficult time. The same irreplaceable spirit of Mrs. Debbie is evident in this decision. Because of this kind gesture, the legacy of Mrs. Deborah Thompson will live on for years to come. We cannot thank (them) enough."

Donations can be made to Bledsoe County Middle School at either the First National Bank of Tennessee in Crossville or the First National Bank of Pikeville.

Text Only
Area News
  • City OKs HCP contract extension

    While a small group of people have opposed the Cumberland Habitat Conservation Plan process, a majority of city council members voted to extend the contract to continue the development of the plan for at least an additional year.

    April 24, 2014

  • Prichard to host summer camps

    CCHS Jet head baseball coach Dave Prichard will be offering the following camps this summer, if there is enough interest.

    April 24, 2014

  • Citizen wants to raise funds for new animal shelter

    A local woman wants to raise funds to build a new animal shelter for the county, but the building and grounds committee of the Cumberland County Commission has questions about how public donations for that purpose would need to be handled.

    April 24, 2014

  • Drasal et CG.jpg Drasal awarded Legion of Honor

    About 10 years ago, the French government decided to recognize all of the veterans who contributed to the liberation of France during World War II. Since then, hundreds of veterans from across the U.S. have received the Legion of Honor, which is the highest award France can bestow. It recognizes those who served their country with distinction.

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • trail 1.jpg Working on the trail

    Volunteers were out Saturday morning constructing a trail at Meadow Park Lake. This was phase one of trail building, explained John Conrad, Crossville Trails organizer, with volunteers clipping twigs and branches and raking a path. Bruce Whitehead, George Schlenker, Lee Skinner and Pat Schudiske rake a path about three feet wide. Later, larger obstacles, such as fallen trees, will be removed, and topsoil removed on the trail to aid in trail maintenance. The trail will be about 1.5 miles in length.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Panel waives ticket charge for boosters

    The building and grounds committee approved a request to waive a portion of the ticket fees for a school sports booster group planning a truck and tractor pull at the Cumberland County Community Complex, but the committee cautioned the group it would take action by the full Cumberland County Commission to relieve them of the obligation to return 10 percent of the gate charge to the county.

    April 23, 2014

  • Jury seated in Batty slaying case

    A jury plus alternates has been seated and began hearing evidence in the trial of John Russell Giles of Hampshire Lane, Fairfield Glade, charged in connection with the Nov. 7 death of Kimberly Ann Batty, 58, of Dovenshire Dr., also Fairfield Glade.

    April 23, 2014

  • New site sought for convenience center

    An expansion at Colinx and the improvement of a city street will require Cumberland County to move a convenience center. The city of Crossville has proposed a site in the same general area, but commissioners on the county's building and grounds committee were concerned about the cost to make the site suitable for a convenience center and the proximity of the Little Obed River.

    April 23, 2014

  • Hwy. 70 crash.jpg CCHS student dies in car crash

    Crossville Police have identified the victim of a two-vehicle collision that occurred Tuesday morning on Hwy. 70 W at the intersection of Dillon St. as a sophomore at Cumberland County High School.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_0783.JPG Visitors center now open to the public

    A ten-year effort to establish a gateway to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, as well as to point tourists and visitors to the many other area parks, historical sites and points of interest, concluded Thursday as the community gathered with officials from the city of Crossville, Cumberland County, the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce and the National Park Service to dedicate the Crossville-Cumberland County: Gateway to the Big South Fork Visitors Center on River Otter Dr.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
US Proposes Pay-for-priority Internet Standards Wife Mourns Chicago Doctor Killed in Afghanistan FDA Proposes Regulations on E-cigarettes Kerry Warns Russia of Expensive New Sanctions Mideast Peace Talks Stall on Hamas Deal Cody Walker Remembers His Late Brother Paul Grieving South Korea Puts Up Yellow Ribbons Raw: Kerry Brings His Dog to Work Raw: Girls Survive Car Crash Into Their Bedroom Three U.S. Doctors Killed by Afghan Security Yankees' Pineda Suspended 10 Games for Pine Tar Colleagues Mourn Death of Doctors in Afghanistan Ukraine Launches Operation Against Insurgents Obama Reassures Japan on China Raw: Car Crashes Into San Antonio Pool Time Magazine Announces Top Influencers List Raw: Angry Relatives Confront SKorea Officials Bigger Riders Means Bigger Horses Out West Yankees Pineda Ejected for Pine Tar Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice