Driver in Rogersville lawn tractor crash indicted on vehicular assault charge

Jeff Bobo • Sep 3, 2019 at 8:45 PM

ROGERSVILLE — A Rogersville man who crashed his lawn tractor on Route 66-S in May, seriously injuring a passenger who was riding in a trailer, was indicted last week by a Hawkins County grand jury for vehicular assault.

The crash occurred on May 30 as Wendall Keith Hale, 60, 340 W. College St., was driving his lawn tractor down the hill at Vista Drive toward Route 66-S.

Hale reportedly told the Rogersville Police Department that the brakes failed.

Hale was well-known for regularly riding around town on the lawn tractor, usually pulling a small trailer carrying Marie Marcus, 58, also of Rogersville.

The RPD said that as Hale reached the highway, he attempted a sharp turn at about 30 mph, causing the trailer to roll over and throw Marcus onto the pavement.

Marcus reportedly suffered a “massive head injury,” according to Hawkins County Central Dispatch reports. She was transported by Hawkins County EMS to Hawkins County Memorial Hospital, where she was flown via helicopter, reportedly to Holston Valley Medical Center.

Police said Marcus was conscious after the wreck, but in a lot of pain.

Following the rollover, Hale reportedly jumped from the lawn tractor, which continued traveling down the side of the highway and struck a parked pickup.

Several open bottles of liquor were allegedly found at the scene.

Police said Hale also had a strong odor of alcohol, admitted he’d been drinking, and performed poorly on field sobriety tests.

Aside from vehicular assault, Hale was indicted on charges of violation of the open container law and illegal use of an off highway motor vehicle on the highway. 

Vehicular assault is a Class D felony punishable by 2-4 years if convicted.

Hale was scheduled for arraignment Friday in Hawkins County Criminal Court along with other defendants who were indicted on Aug. 19, including:

* Glenda Charlene Helton, 40, 335 Hecktown Road, Rogersville, facilitation of the delivery of Oxymorphone.

* Randy Glenn Fields, 52, 2180 Stanley Valley Road, possession of meth with intent to deliver, attempted auto burglary, and criminal trespass.

* Joseph Joel Gibson, 41, 1624 Lake St., Kingsport, aggravated burglary, theft over $60,000 and vandalism.

* Jason Ray Bernard, 33, 1286 Gap Mountain Road, Greeneville, felony evading arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, no driver’s license, registration violation, and no insurance.

* Timothy James Wright, 54, 529 Peach Orchard Drive, Kingsport, aggravated burglary, burglary, and theft over $1,000.

* William Steven Moore, 59, 3233 Stanley Valley Road, Surgoinsville, possession of meth with intent to deliver, maintaining a dwelling where narcotics are kept or sold, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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