A 48-hour period this past weekend turned out to be one of the bloodiest weekends on Cumberland County roadways in recent memory, with four persons losing their lives (see accompanying stories in this edition).
A young male adult lost his life in an early morning crash in Fairfield Glade on Saturday. Two out-of-state truck drivers died in a single vehicle crash on I-40 between Crab Orchard and Westel. And, the weekend of traffic deaths ended Sunday evening with the death of a county woman in a single-vehicle motorcycle crash.
The traffic mayhem began with the crash of two vehicles — one a sheriff’s office patrol car — on Hwy. 70 N. at Creston Rd. All have since been treated for their injuries and released from the hospital.
In between the fatal crashes, law enforcement officers responded to a second crash on I-40 near the fatal truck wreck scene that left one man injured; a report of a man on a bicycle being struck by a vehicle inside the Crossville city limits and Sunday night two injured in a crash near the 324 mile marker on I-40.
All this occurred during the “tax free” school supply weekend and as educators and students prepare to go back to school this week. Motorists are urged to use caution and avoid distractions while driving as the annual 127 Corridor Sale is held this weekend.
Early Saturday crash claims one life
An early morning crash Saturday left one person dead and two injured — one seriously — according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Investigation is continuing, and the report states a decision on criminal charges is pending.
The single-vehicle wreck occurred on Lakeview Dr. in Fairfield Glade minutes after 3 a.m., according to Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Jake Bramer’s report.
A 2002 Oldsmobile AG driven by Karley M. Reph, 25, was traveling north on Lakeview Dr., not far off Peavine Rd., when the driver lost control of the vehicle. The car traveled off the left side of the road, struck two trees and then struck a house in the 400 block of Lakeview Dr.
Dead at the scene was Jeremiah K. Hood, 19. Reph and passengers Kyle B. Perry, 23, and Skylar M. Lewis, 19, were injured. All occupants of the vehicle were residents of the Crossville area, according to Bramer’s report.
Lewis was airlifted to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, where she continues to be treated for serious internal injuries.
Cumberland County Emergency Medical Services ambulances rushed Perry and Reph to Cumberland Medical Center's emergency room for treatment. Information on their injuries and whether they were admitted to the hospital was not available.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Critical Incident Response Team and the District Attorney’s Office are investigating. Also on the scene were Fairfield Glade and Cumberland County firefighters and law enforcement officers.
Two truckers die in I-40 crash
Two truck drivers in a tractor-trailer rig loaded with paper products died Sunday morning when their truck suddenly veered into the median, crossed the oncoming lane of traffic and traveled down a steep embankment.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol identified the two as the driver, Mutasim Abdelrahman, 31, Garden City, KS, and his passenger, Robert William Newton, 39, Branson, MO.
The crash occurred just before 8 a.m. on I-40 near the 335 mile marker between Crab Orchard and Westel. The 2019 Kenworth truck exited the last of a series of curves in the right east lane when, for unknown reasons, traveled straight across the left lane and into the median.
The truck traveled through a wire barrier separating the lanes and began to overturn, according to Trooper William Morgan’s report. The truck crossed both west lanes, crashed through a guardrail and traveled down a steep embankment, striking several trees before coming to rest on its right side.
Damage to the truck’s cab, which was ripped from the carriage, was massive. The truck’s engine was thrown into the wooded area and, according to witnesses who reported the crash, what was left of the cab was flattened.
This sparked a major extrication effort by the Cumberland County Fire Department, whose personnel had to use a chainsaw to cut trees out of the way to make room to work.
The crash also caused a major snarl in traffic. About 40 minutes after the crash, an SUV traveling too fast in the crash zone veered from one lane to the other and overturned in front of a firetruck that had been posted some distance from the scene to slow traffic. The firetruck was not struck.
Cumberland County Emergency Medical Services ambulance personnel waiting on extrication rushed to the second crash and took that driver to Cumberland Medical Center’s emergency room for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
It wasn’t until rescue personnel were well into the extrication effort that they discovered there were two persons inside the wreckage.
Workers labored into the night Sunday in recovery of the cargo and truck wreckage, causing traffic delays of up to an hour as traffic was rerouted onto Hwy. 70 around the crash site.
One dead in motorcycle crash
The driver of a motorcycle lost her life in a single-vehicle crash Sunday evening, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. No one else was injured in the incident, according to the THP report.
Charla B. Hendrix, 52, listed as from the Crossville area, was driving a 1992 Harley Davidson XLB south on Flynn’s Cove Rd. and “went around a left curve, ran off the roadway and into a ditch,” the THP report reads.
The motorcycle continued, hitting a barbed-wire fence and then a fence post, causing Hendrix to be ejected from the motorcycle.
The crash caused traffic delays on Lantana Rd. as emergency and police responded to the scene.
The report does not indicate whether there were witnesses to the crash.