Children ejected in Rogersville wreck are expected to survive

Jeff Bobo • Dec 4, 2007 at 12:00 AM

A rescue helicopter lands on Highway 11-W in Rogersville at the scene of Monday night’s crash. Erica Yoon photo.


ROGERSVILLE — All three children involved in a two-vehicle collision on Highway 11-W in Rogersville Monday night are expected to survive, despite the fact that two of them weren’t restrained and were ejected from a van.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper David Burns said Tuesday the fact that both children landed on dirt instead of asphalt probably saved their lives. The driver of that vehicle is expected to face charges for not having them in child safety seats.

The accident occurred around 9 p.m. Monday at the intersection of 11-W and Park Boulevard. Burns said a westbound Ford Windstar minivan driven by William A. Dotson, 24, of Freeburn, Ky., was attempting to make a left turn onto Park Boulevard.

According to witnesses, the Windstar pulled into the path of a 1998 Ford Explorer eastbound on 11-W and driven by David Edward Chess, 35, 170 Shanks Gap Road, Rogersville, Burns said.

Chess was the only occupant of the Explorer, and he was listed in stable condition Tuesday at Holston Valley Medical Center.

Passengers in Dotson’s van included a mother, Shannon Marie Eaton, 28, 566 Oak Grove Road, Rogersville, and her three children ages 9, 5 and 2.

The 2-year-old was in a child safety seat, which withstood the impact. That child has been treated and released from HVMC.

As of Tuesday evening the 5-year-old was in fair condition at HVMC, and the 9-year-old was at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in stable condition.

Burns said everyone is expected to survive, although Eaton is the most badly injured. As of Tuesday evening she was listed in serious condition at the Johnson City Medical Center intensive care unit.

“The 5-year-old and the 9-year-old were both located outside the vehicle,” Burns said. “I spoke to a doctor in the ICU at UT about the 9-year-old, and he talked like he was doing good — he had a broken femur and maybe some facial fractures but was going to recover. I saw the 5-year-old last night at Holston Valley, and the emergency room doctor there told me he thought he was going to be just fine.

“They’re very fortunate that the vehicle didn’t get on them, and they actually landed on dirt and not asphalt. That’s probably what saved them.”

Dotson has been treated and released.

Burns said everyone was wearing seat belts except for the 5-year-old and 9-year-old.

Both vehicles came to rest in the southeast corner of the intersection — the Explorer on its side up against a utility pole and the Windstar on its wheels down an embankment.

Rescuers from the Rogersville and Striggersville fire departments as well as Hawkins County EMS and the Hawkins County Rescue Squad responded to the scene.

Three rescue helicopters carried away five of the injured, and the sixth was transported by ambulance. All six people involved in the accident were extricated and on their way to the hospital within 30 minutes.

The highway was closed for about an hour around the crash site, and rescuers set up the helicopter landing zone on a section of highway just east of the intersection.

Charges are pending against both drivers. Burns wouldn’t specify who will be charged with what except to say failure to yield right of way and the lack of child safety seats will be an issue.

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