A crew from Holston Electric uses a crane to hold up a broken utility pole as rescue personnel work at the scene of a crash late Monday in Rogersville. Six people were injured in the crash at the intersection of 11-W and Park Boulevard. Photo by Erica Yoon.
ROGERSVILLE — The scene could only be described as organized chaos as rescuers converging on a horrendous two-vehicle wreck on Highway 11-W in Rogersville Monday night treated six badly injured patients simultaneously, preparing them for transport to the hospital.
The accident occurred around 9 p.m. Monday at the intersection of 11-W and Park Boulevard.
By 9:30 p.m. five of the six injured were on their way to a hospital via three rescue helicopters, and the sixth was being transported by an ambulance.
A Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper was just beginning his investigation as the Times-News deadline approached, and many of the details including the names of those involved weren’t available at press time.
Rescuers at the scene said all six were at least seriously injured, and most were critical.
The firefighter who treated a small child who was ejected from a vehicle described the child as “very critical.”
The accident involved a Ford Explorer SUV and a Ford Windstar minivan. It appeared that one of the vehicles T-boned the other and both vehicles landed off the roadway in the southeast corner of the intersection.
The Explorer landed on its side up against the pole that holds up the traffic signals. The impact split the pole in the center, and a Holston Electric crew responded to the scene and was holding the broken pole in place with a crane.
The Windstar, which appeared to have been struck on the passenger-side door, landed on its wheels at the bottom of an embankment.
There were at least two small children involved in the accident, and rescuers indicated they were both in the same vehicle. One of the small children was restrained in a child safety seat that withstood the impact.
The other small child, who was not in a child safety seat, was ejected.
“The child who was ejected is very critical, and that was the first one flown out,” said Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Murrell, who responded as a Striggersville volunteer firefighter. “I don’t know how old. I just know it was a small child, and it was not in a car seat.”
Just as the third and final helicopter took off, the parents of one of the drivers arrived at the scene looking for answers as to where their loved ones had been transported and what condition they were in.
It was frustrating for the parents as well as the rescuers who’d been so preoccupied with treating the patients and getting them on their way that they didn’t have time to learn names or who was being sent where. The parents were unable to contain their emotion as they were initially unable to find any answers.
“All I know is some are going to Holston Valley and some are going to Johnson City,” a Hawkins County EMS paramedic told the parents. “Even the helicopter pilots don’t know the names of who they’re flying. We were trying to get them to the hospital as quick as possible.”
Hawkins County EMS paramedic Chili Sanders said everyone was focused on their individual patient, and as the final patient lifted off no one really knew what the whole picture looked like yet.
“We had everybody working on everybody,” Sanders said.
Firefighters from Rogersville and Striggersville responded as well as Hawkins EMS and the Hawkins County Rescue Squad. The highway was closed for about an hour, and the three helicopters landed on a section of the highway just east of the intersection.