Lt. Kevin Ewing surveys the accident scene at the intersection of Hammond Avenue and 11-W Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Erica Yoon.
MOUNT CARMEL — Police believe an elderly Church Hill man suffered a fatal medical emergency Tuesday afternoon that caused him to pass through two stop signs and onto Highway 11-W, where he was T-boned by a westbound vehicle.
The accident occurred shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Hammond Avenue intersection near Mount Carmel City Hall.
Assistant Mount Carmel Police Chief Mike Campbell, who was among the first officers on the scene, said Walter Krywulak, 79, of Church Hill, was unconscious but still had a pulse moments after the accident.
As rescuers were attempting to remove him from his 1995 Oldsmobile, however, Krywulak’s pulse stopped and Church Hill EMS personnel were unable to revive him.
It could not be confirmed Monday that a medical emergency was responsible for the wreck, but Campbell said the evidence and eyewitness accounts point in that direction.
“We had one eyewitness who was following behind him and said he drove southbound through the (railroad) underpass — the vehicle actually struck the underpass prior to getting to Main Street — and he never touched his brakes,” Campbell said. “He went straight through Main Street without attempting to stop, and right out into the westbound traffic of 11-W without attempting to stop and was T-boned. It was unfortunate timing for the motorist who happened to be passing by on 11-W at that time.”
Eddie Johnson, 34, 519 Cedar St., Mount Carmel, was westbound in a 2005 Nissan Altima and struck Krywulak’s vehicle in the side. After the impact both cars came to rest in the eastbound lanes of the highway.
Johnson was transported to Holston Valley Medical Center for treatment of bruises and soreness in the neck and back, but Campbell said his injuries weren’t life threatening. Both vehicle had only one occupant, and both occupants were wearing a seat belt.
“It was a really bad T-bone, but we have to stress the fact that speed was not a factor,” Campbell said. “That’s evident by the skid marks. He (Johnson) attempted to stop, and the skid marks indicate he was not speeding. EMS personnel indicated that there was not a lot of trauma to (Krywulak), at least not enough to cause his death. That’s an indication that something was wrong with him prior to the crash.”