A third car was also caught up in the crash, while four people were ultimately transported to the hospital for treatment. Kingsport Police Department Public Information Officer Tom Patton said none of the injuries were life-threatening.
At about 9:15, KPD officers responded to the scene. According to witnesses, a northbound Ford Explorer was crossing the bridge in the southbound lanes, forcing at least two motorists who were traveling in the correct direction to swerve out of its way.
However, the 17-year-old driver of a Nissan Xterra was unable to avoid the wrong-way motorist, and their vehicles hit head-on. An Oldsmobile Cutlass following the Nissan was also involved, but it did not sustain disabling damage and was driven from the scene.
The at-fault driver, Steven Ashworth, 18, and a 17-year-old passenger were transported to the hospital, as were two juvenile occupants of the Nissan. Ashworth reportedly told the investigating officer that while turning onto Fort Henry Drive from Rock Springs Road, he “simply made a mistake.”
“When he realized his error, it was too late (to avoid a crash),” reads a KPD report. It also notes there were no signs of Ashworth being under the influence.
Ashworth was cited for traveling the wrong way, along with not having insurance for his SUV.
Cleanup of the two disabled vehicles forced the closure of both southbound lanes of Fort Henry Drive for an hour and a half.
It also triggered a notice from the KPD saying that motorists needed to avoid the area and that anyone stuck in traffic should “exercise caution and patience.”