CHURCH HILL — Police believe Gene Kelly, 79, of Kingsport suffered a medical problem Friday afternoon before his SUV veered off of Highway 11-W in Church Hill and flipped.
The accident occurred shortly before 12:30 p.m. Friday as Kelly, 715 Hollis St., Kingsport, was driving a Honda CRV eastbound on 11-W near the South Central Avenue intersection.
“For apparently a medical reason he ran off the right side of the roadway,” Church Hill Police Chief Mark Johnson said. “According to witnesses he didn’t even hit his brakes. Once he hit the ditch he flipped and rolled his vehicle.”
Kelly was wearing a seat belt, and Johnson said that saved him from more serious injury or death. Kelly was treated at Holston Valley Medical Center and released later Friday afternoon.
The Church Hill Rescue Squad, local firefighters and Church Hill EMS personnel extricated Kelly from the vehicle, which landed on its passenger side. Rescuers used wood braces to hold the vehicle in place while Kelly was pulled up and out of the driver’s side door.
“(Rescuers) propped the vehicle up using 4-by-4s and different pieces and links of wood to make sure it was safe not only for the victim inside the car, but also the rescuers,” Johnson said.
Kelly was transported to HVMC via Church Hill EMS ambulance.
“He was conscious and talking when they put him in the ambulance, and he did not appear to have any life-threatening injuries.” Johnson said. “I was able to talk to him, and he did not know what made him wreck.”