Church Hill crash claims lives of mother and son

Jeff Bobo • Updated Aug 28, 2019 at 2:40 PM

CHURCH HILL — The Tennessee Highway Patrol confirmed Wednesday that a mother and son who were involved in a crash on Highway 11-W Tuesday were both killed.

The accident occurred shortly before 1 p.m. when a 2005 Dodge Stratus driven by June Bruner, 85, Mount Carmel, reportedly pulled out from Richmond Street onto Highway 11-W into the path of an oncoming truck.

The truck impacted the Dodge’s driver’s side door. Mrs. Bruner’s son Clair Bruner, 62, Mount Carmel, was in the passenger seat, and both suffered fatal injuries.

The driver of the truck, Andrew Gilreath, 54, Church Hill, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to Holston Valley Medical Center via Hawkins County EMS.

Eyewitness account

An eyewitness, Stacy Whitaker of Jefferson County, was at the intersection beside the Stratus when the accident occurred.

Whitaker told the Times News at the scene he was waiting to turn west from Richmond Street onto 11-W, and the Dodge was attempting to cross the westbound traffic and turn east.

The Stratus pulled out in front of the westbound truck, resulting in a T-bone collision with the Dodge driver’s side door, Whitaker said.

“I don’t know if they just didn’t see the truck, but they pulled right out in front of it,” Whitaker said. “The truck never even had a chance to touch his brakes. It was that close.”

The truck came to rest near the Garland Avenue intersection at the west entrance of the Church Hill Shopping Plaza.

Clair Bruner was flown from the scene via Wings Air Rescue.

Hawkins traffic fatalities up from 2018

Tuesday’s wreck in Church Hill brings Hawkins County’s total to 11 traffic fatalities so far this year, according to a THP report.

Hawkins County’s 2019 traffic fatality total is tied for second highest among the 13 counties in the THP’s Fall Branch District, which also includes Sullivan (12), Washington (11), Carter (8), Greene (5), Jefferson (4), Cocke (3), Johnson (3), Unicoi (2), Claiborne (1), Hamblen (1), Hancock (1), and Grainger (0).

According to a THP report, Hawkins County had seven traffic fatalities in 2018.

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