One person had to be flown out by emergency medical helicopter following a three-vehicle crash Monday morning in Whitley County, and was listed in critical condition Tuesday afternoon at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.
The crash happened about 5:30 a.m. near the 14-mile marker in the northbound lane on I-75.
Whitley County Sheriff’s Lt. Dennis Foley, who investigated the crash, said that a large dark colored vehicle was heading north when it was struck in the rear by a vehicle driven by Cody Fuson of Williamsburg.
The driver of the first vehicle left the scene right after the accident.
Fuson and his passenger, Bianca Barnes, also of Williamsburg, exited their disabled vehicle and were walking toward the emergency lane when their vehicle was struck in the rear by a third vehicle, which was driven by Johnny Goley.
The force of the impact knocked one of the vehicles sideways and Barnes and Fuson were struck knocking them down.
Goldbug Fire Chief Brandon Woods said Barnes injuries were potentially life threatening.
“She was fairly unresponsive when first responders got there. She had multiple traumatic injuries,” Woods noted.
Goldbug Volunteer Fire Department set up an emergency landing zone in the southbound lane where a THI emergency medical helicopter out of London landed, and transported Barnes to Knoxville.
Whitley County EMS transported Fuson to Jellico Community Hospital to get checked out.
A fourth vehicle was also somewhat involved Monday morning, but it didn’t make contact with the other three vehicles.
A vehicle driven by Nathaniel Adamson of South Carolina swerved to avoid the wreck in the roadway and lightly struck the cable barrier, but not the other vehicles in the road.
The interstate was at least partially shut down for about 90 minutes starting about 6 a.m. until it reopened about 7:30 a.m.
Williamsburg Fire and Rescue helped detour traffic onto US25W while the interstate was shut down.
Foley thanked all the agencies and individuals, who assisted him, including: Williamsburg Police Officer Mike Taylor, Whitley County EMS, and members of the Goldbug Volunteer Fire Department and Williamsburg Fire and Rescue.
“Everyone that responded was a really big help,” Foley added.
Foley said that he doesn’t know why the original vehicle, which was struck, was moving very slowly or stopped at the time of the crash, or why it left the scene of the accident.
Foley speculated that its possible the vehicle might have been pulled off onto the emergency lane and then was trying to merge back onto the interstate when it was hit.
Foley said that Fuson was adamant that the vehicle he struck was a large SUV, but that it is possible it could have been a full-sized pick-up truck or maybe even a semi.
Foley said that he’s not sure how an SUV could have sustained that kind of impact and not have been disabled by the crash.
Anyone with information about the first vehicle involved in the crash is asked to contact the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department at (606) 549-6017.
Ice was not a contributing factor to the accident, officials said.