Spilled drink sends motorist plunging into Holston River

Jeff Bobo • Jul 3, 2013 at 2:23 PM

ROGERSVILLE — A Ford Expedition that drove into the Holston River late Monday night near Rogersville hadn’t been retrieved from the water as of late Tuesday afternoon, causing concern that it might float away.

At 11:06 p.m. Monday, Hawkins County Central Dispatch received a call that a Ford Expedition with one occupant had slid into the Holston River off of McKinney Chapel Road just off Route 66 south of Rogersville.

Although the driver had gotten out and swum to shore uninjured, the vehicle was completely submerged.

According to a report filed by Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Billy Cutshall, a 2002 Ford Expedition driven by Farron Catron II, 29, of Rogersville, was traveling eastbound on McKinney Chapel Road.

“(Catron) stated that he spilled his drink and reached over to pick it up and veered off the right side of the roadway and into the river,” Cutshall stated in his report.

The THP opted to leave the Expedition in the river until daylight, but as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, the vehicle was still in the river.

Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Murrell responded to the initial call late Monday night.

Murrell told the Times-News Tuesday there was concern that the vehicle may start floating downriver if rain in the Tuesday evening forecast increased the river current.

There are two major nearby obstacles that the Expedition could run into if it did start floating downriver including the Route 66 Hugh B. Day Bridge and the Melinda Ferry Road Bridge.

“They’re going to have to get a diver to go in there and hook it up so a large wrecker can pull it out,” Murrell said Tuesday afternoon. “We can’t leave it in there with all this rain we’re supposed to get. It’s going to start moving on them. ...We’ve contacted them and told them we have divers for them to call, but I’ve not heard back from them.”

Murrell noted that the road was wet Monday night when the accident occurred.

“He just drove straight off of the road into the river, coming into the curve,” Murrell added. “There’s a little rural road that runs right beside the river, and it’s full now. If it wasn’t as full as it is, he wouldn’t have gone into the water.”

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