Three people have lost their lives in DeKalb County traffic accidents this year and the Tennessee Highway Patrol and other local law enforcement agencies will be working over the next two weeks to keep that number from going any higher.
The THP will be conducting driver license roadside safety checkpoints this week on State Route 146 and sobriety roadside safety checkpoints next week on Highway 56 in DeKalb County. Two of the three fatal wrecks this year in DeKalb County occurred on Highways 146 & 56 while the other took place on Highway 70 at Snow Hill. At least one of them involved alcohol. Meanwhile, two others from DeKalb County died in traffic accidents in Rutherford and Smith Counties this year.
30 year old Chris Gammons of Smithville, involved in a two vehicle crash on Saturday, June 23 died Monday, July 9 at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. Gammons was one of four people in that accident which occurred on Highway 70 near the intersection of Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) on Snow Hill. Gammons and Troy Bruno, both of Smithville were airlifted from near the scene of the crash by Life Force and Air Evac helicopter ambulances. The other two in the wreck were 32 year old Cleva Elaine Gammons of Smithville, wife of Chris Gammons, and 52 year old Johnny Hickey of Liberty. Hickey was traveling west on Highway 70 in a 2004 F350 full size flat bed truck when he crossed the turning lane and into the path of an eastbound 2002 Nissan Altima, driven by Cleva Elaine Gammons. Chris Gammons was a front seat passenger and Troy Bruno was a back seat passenger of the Altima. Chris Gammons was ejected and landed on the highway, in front of the Altima. Bruno was trapped in the backseat and had to be extricated by members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication and Rescue Team.Bruno and Chris Gammons were transported by DeKalb EMS to a helicopter landing zone on Highway 70 at the intersection of Toad Road. One of them was airlifted by a Life Force helicopter and the other was flown out by an Air Evac helicopter. Mrs. Gammons was transported to DeKalb Community Hospital, where she was treated and released. On November 26, Hickey was indicted by the grand jury on one count of vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular assault, and driving under the influence.
41 year old William Larry Dyle, II of McMinnville was found dead at the scene of a motorcycle crash on Highway 56 south on Thursday, September 27. Dyle was operating a 2007 Honda Gold Wing motorcycle southbound and failed to negotiate a curve. He ran off the right side of the roadway, struck two mailboxes and a utility pole near the home of Phillip Cantrell. Dyle, who died at the scene, was wearing a helmet but was thrown from the bike. He landed about ten yards away from the motorcycle. It is unknown when the accident occurred. A couple out walking discovered the crash and reported it to 911 at around 6:19 a.m. Dyle's body was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.
A Wednesday, November 28 traffic accident claimed the life of 72 year old Martha J. Thomason of Short Mountain Highway, Woodbury. The accident occurred on Highway 146 between the Game Ridge and Whorton Springs Roads. Thomason was driving south on Highway 146 in a 2004 Honda CRV when she went off the right side of the road, struck an earthen embankment, and overturned in a field. The car came to rest upright on its wheels. Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Rescue Team were summoned to perform extrication in order to get Thomason out of the car. She was treated on site by DeKalb EMS and then loaded onto an Air Evac helicopter ambulance which landed at the scene. Thomason was flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville where she later died.
18 year old Zack Ferrell of Smithville, on his way to work at Nissan, lost his life in a pickup truck crash around 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning, July 1 on Highway 96 near Lascassas in Rutherford County. Trooper Michael Cummins of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said Ferrell was driving a 1986 Chevy pickup truck, heading toward Murfreesboro, when he ran off the right side of the highway and struck a guardrail. Ferrell apparently overcorrected and came back across the highway, crossing the center line and oncoming lane. The truck then went off an embankment and into a line of trees. The truck ran head on into a tree. Ferrell was partially ejected. Trooper Cummins said Ferrell died at the scene. His body was taken to Middle Tennessee Medical Center in Murfreesboro. Ferrell graduated from DeKalb County High School in May.
19 year old Johnny Ray Farless of Smithville died and two others were injured after their car ran into a tractor trailer rig on Interstate 40 in Smith County early Thursday morning, October 25. Those injured were 21 year old Amanda Price of Liberty and 19 year old Zachary Barlow of Lebanon. Farless and Barlow were passengers of a 2009 Hyundai, driven by Price. The accident occurred at around 2:06 a.m. Price was driving east on I-40 near the 252 mile marker when she apparently fell asleep and ran into the back of a 2012 tractor trailer, which was parked off the roadway near a truck rest stop area. The driver of the rig, 44 year old Alvin Walker of Olive Branch, Mississippi was asleep in the sleeper cab compartment of the truck at the time of the accident. The truck was loaded with general freight. After making impact with the rear of the trailer, Price's car spun around and came to rest halfway in the slow lane and the entrance ramp to the rest stop. Walker was not injured. Neither Farless, Price, nor Barlow were wearing a seatbelt.
Impaired driving is a serious crime that kills more than 16,000 people and injures 305,000 others every year in the United States. During the sobriety checkpoints, Troopers will evaluate drivers for signs of alcohol or drug impairment. Troopers will target those who operate a vehicle while impaired and take corrective actions for other violations observed while ensuring the protection of all motorists.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol recognizes that sobriety checkpoints are highly visible and effective tools in the battle against impaired driving.