Speed, inexperience cited in crash that killed Sullivan South student

Rain Smith • Nov 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Police have identified a Sullivan South High School student killed in a Tuesday car crash, and cite speed and inexperience as factors in the wreck.

Zach Stamper, 16, of 257 New Summerville Road, Kingsport, was killed when the car he was riding in flipped and hit a utility pole. Two other 16-year-old students, Cody A. Franklin, 2219 Rock Springs Road, and Matt Kissick, 1198 Summerville Road, were transported to Holston Valley Medical Center.

Sullivan South Principal Greg Harvey said he had not received an update on the two survivors since Tuesday, when they were in stable condition.

The crash occurred about 6:30 a.m. on Summerville Road near Homestead Drive. Franklin, who was driving a 2005 Nissan Altima, told police he came over a hill to see headlights on his side of the road and swerved to avoid a collision.

The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office crash report states that as Franklin’s vehicle crested the hill and entered the curve he lost control, causing the vehicle to yaw. It began to overturn as it left the side of the road, striking a utility pole.

In the Driver Actions portion of the crash report, “operator inexperience,” “speed too fast” and “other” were checked.

Under Tennessee state law, Franklin, a 16-year-old driver, would have been operating his vehicle under an Intermediate Restricted license. It states you can have only one passenger in the vehicle under the age of 21 unless other passengers 21 or older are present.

That was not the case in Tuesday’s wreck.

Two pages summarizing Tennessee’s Graduated License System — including Learner Permits, Intermediate Restricted and Intermediate Unrestricted licenses — were stapled to the back of a crash report released to local media.

SCSO Capt. Keith Elton said he included the informa

tion “because I’d had so many questions.”

When asked if the driver could face charges or suspension of his license, Elton responded, “No, not that I know of.”

Police are still investigating the crash.

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