MOUNT CARMEL — The Kingsport Fire Department’s Swift Water Team rescued a motorist late Tuesday night after he apparently lost control on River Road and rolled the SUV he was driving, which landed on its wheels in about three feet of water on the North Fork of the Holston River.
The accident occurred shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday on the Hawkins County side of the North Fork just past the Carters Valley Road bridge.
The name of the lone male occupant of the vehicle was not available late Tuesday. Mount Carmel Fire Chief Chris Jones said the man was badly shaken but didn’t appear to be seriously injured.
The man was transported to Holston Valley Medical Center via Church Hill EMS ambulance.
The accident was still under investigation late Tuesday, although rescuers know the driver was northbound on River Road just past the Carters Valley Road intersection when the accident occurred. The SUV left the roadway to the right side and likely hit a large boulder or stump on the riverbank, which caused the SUV to roll.
Damage to the roof of the vehicle was apparent, and rescuers at the scene said the driver can count himself as lucky that the SUV landed on its wheels in the river instead of on the roof.
Upon being removed from the vehicle, the driver appeared dazed. Rescuers said he initially reported having a passenger, which sent rescuers scurrying downriver with flashlights looking for another person.
After a few moments the man appeared to regain his senses, said he was alone in the vehicle, and the search was called off.
Rescuers said the man, who was wearing a suit, indicated he was on his way home from church.
Mount Carmel Police Department Officer Ken Lunsford interviewed two witnesses who saw the wreck. Lunsford said their account confirmed that there was only one occupant of the vehicle.
The cause of the accident wasn’t known late Tuesday.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him,” Lunsford said. “I’ll talk to him at the hospital.”
Although Kingsport firefighters arrived at the scene first, technically the accident was within the Mount Carmel town limits. Also responding to the scene was the Carters Valley Volunteer Fire Department.