A cross recently stood as a memorial to a motorcyclist who was killed in a collision on Fort Henry Drive on March 8. David Grace photo.
A motorcyclist recently killed in a fiery crash on Fort Henry Drive was traveling at approximately 109 mph just prior to striking a car, according to Kingsport police, and 89 mph at the point of impact.
An investigation into the incident is continuing. The death was the fifth traffic fatality for the same section of Kingsport road in six months, with all the previous crashes attributed to driver actions and errors.
The crash occurred shortly after noon on March 8, in front of Walmart Supercenter. Police reported Samuel A. Ireson Jr., 23, of Kingsport, was riding a 1998 Kawasaki motorcycle southbound on Fort Henry Drive.
Meanwhile, at the intersection with Atoka Lane, a northbound 2011 Hyundai Sonata was preparing to turn left into the Walmart parking lot. Police say that both the driver of the car and Ireson had a green light, with Ireson's motorcycle striking the Hyundai passenger's side rear door.
Kingsport Police Department Public Information Officer Tom Patton reports evidence collected at the scene, along with reconstruction analysis, indicates Ireson's motorcycle was traveling approximately 109 mph just before the collision — within a posted 45 mph zone. He's estimated to have been going 89 mph at the point of impact.
Ireson was killed, while the driver of the car was treated for non-life threatening injuries at an area hospital.
Patton stated that an investigation into the crash is continuing. Investigating officers are asking any witnesses who have not yet come forward to contact the KPD Traffic Unit at (423) 224-2750.
As is protocol for traffic fatalities involving more than one vehicle, police findings will be presented to a Sullivan County grand jury.
Ireson's death marked the fifth fatality in six months over a short stretch of Fort Henry Drive. City of Kingsport officials recently confirmed that they would work with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to see if any improvement's could be made.
On Sept. 14, a 2002 Acura RSX coupe, driven by Dena Marie Riddle, 43, of Kingsport, was traveling 104 mph when it crossed the center lane into oncoming traffic and struck a Ford Expedition head on. Both vehicles burst into flames and Riddle died at the scene of the crash.
The driver of the Ford Expedition, Walter T. Bellamy, 58, died three days later as a result of injuries from the crash. The two passengers in his vehicle also sustained serious injuries.
Pathology reports from lab testing later revealed Riddle was more than three times over the legal blood alcohol limit when the collision occurred.
One week later at the intersection of Thornton Drive, a Jeep Cherokee allegedly ran the red light and struck a Chevrolet Malibu. The driver of the Chevrolet, Melissa Lambert of Kingsport, was killed, while the other driver's alleged failure to obey the traffic light was cited as the contributing factor.
As in Ireson's fatal crash, findings of a police investigation into that wreck will also be presented to a Sullivan County grand jury to determine a final resolution to the incident.
In December, Elisa Kiser, 53, turned her 2007 Ford Focus into the path of a 2003 Ford F-150 at the intersection of Atoka, incurring fatal injuries. She was reportedly not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
Kingsport police say a subsequent investigation of the incident revealed Kiser's failure to yield to the other motorist, who had a green light and right of way through the intersection, spurred the fatal crash.