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Bloodied man arrested at site of Kingsport wreck

Rain Smith • Sep 15, 2010 at 1:07 AM

A bloodied man found at a Kingsport wreck has been charged with DUI, allegedly claiming he was a hitchhiker the missing driver had recently picked up.

Kingsport police say the suspect denied having an ID or wallet, though one was visible in his back pocket, while the van's keys were eventually located in another.

An arrest report says the incident occurred Tuesday on I-26, shortly before 5 a.m. A 1996 Dodge Caravan was found between eastbound mile marker 0 and 1, off the interstate and against a guard rail.

The responding officer says a man with blood on his clothes was standing nearby. The man allegedly provided police a name, date of birth and address, but claimed he did not have a wallet.

"I could see a wallet in his back pocket," reports the officer's narrative of the incident.

Police say there was no key in the van's ignition, with no one but emergency personnel in the area. When asked for his ID a second time, the man allegedly produced his wallet and driver's license.

The suspect was identified as Chester E. Cookenour, 58, of 1901-4 Darnell Dr., Kingsport; not the ID he previously provided. He allegedly had an odor of alcohol, and speech that was, "slow and slurred and his statements were not making sense."

Cookenour consented to a search, according to police, with the van's key being located in a pocket.

"He said he had been hitchhiking and someone in the van picked him up," reads the police report. "He then changed his story and said he had they keys because he was going to buy the van from this unknown person approximately a week ago."

Police say Cookenour would not respond when asked why he had given a false name and address, and that an open bottle of alcohol was found in the van.

Cookenour was asked to perform two field sobriety tests. Police report that after performing poorly he, "claimed injury due to the crash," and that he had low blood sugar. Medics on scene reported his blood sugar was in the normal range, and Cookenour was transported to Holston Valley Medical Center.

At the hospital he allegedly refused to submit to a blood test and was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, criminal impersonation and violation of implied consent.

Police say the van's tag and vehicle identification number returned as not on file, and an open title was found inside the vehicle. Cookenour allegedly told a nurse that he didn't' have insurance on the vehicle, according to the report, because he had just purchased it.

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