Car accident kills teenage girl, injures three more

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff
An early morning accident involving five automobiles injured three people and killed a teenage girl.
According to Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Dexter Lunceford, the accident occurred at approximately 7:25 a.m. Friday on Highway 19-E, Roan Mountain, in the vicinity of Victory Baptist Church. Bridget Singleton, 16, 410 Cove Creek, Roan Mountain, was killed instantly "when for some unknown reason, her car crossed the center line and struck vehicle No. 2," Lunceford said.
The driver of the second vehicle, Gary Carden, 39, 214 West H. Street, Elizabethton, was injured and airlifted by Wings Air Rescue to Johnson City Medical Center for treatment. His injuries are not expected to be life-threatening.
Singleton was traveling northbound with her brother, Donald Singleton Jr., 17, as a passenger. He was transported to Sycamore Shoals for treatment of injuries. Lunceford said his injuries are not life-threatening, but he was suffering from short-term memory loss.
"He remembers seeing the car swerve, but he doesn't remember anything else after that," Lunceford said.
The passenger in Carden's vehicle, Pamela Small, 44, 1436 Bristol Highway, Elizabethton, was also transported with non-life-threatening injuries.
Following the initial impact of Singleton and Carden's vehicles, three more vehicles had minor accidents while attempting to avoid the other two cars. One vehicle, driven by John Shell, 39, 1305 Broad St., Elizabethton, who was following Carden, slowed down, but was unable to stop before striking Carden's automobile. The fourth vehicle, traveling northbound, driven by Deani Smith, 31, 123 Albs Road, Hampton, swerved to the right and stopped, but was struck from behind by vehicle No. 5, driven by Allyson Miller, 28, 1024 DeJarnette St., Elizabethton.
Although foul play is not suspected in the accident, Lunceford did order blood tests on Singleton and Carden. Results were not immediately available from the TBI crime lab. All occupants in the five cars were wearing seat belts.
An autopsy was not ordered because foul play was not suspected. Lunceford would not speculate on what injuries caused Singleton's death.
"Accidents happen. She is not here to tell us. We may never know why this happened," said Lunceford.
Criminal charges were not placed in the accident, but Carden was charged with violation of the habitual motor offender law, violation of the vehicle registration law and violation of the financial responsibility law.
Bridget was a student at Hampton High School, where she was a junior member of the Lady Bulldogs softball team and the manager of the football team. Donald is also a student at Hampton High.
Danny McClain, Hampton High School principal, said an assembly was held Friday morning to notify students of the tragic accident. A memorial service is being planned for next week, said McClain.
"Bridget was very well liked and well known. She always had a smile on her face and always put a smile on other people's as well," he said.
McClain said, "We have a team of counselors already in place." Eight counselors were brought in from other schools in the area and from Frontier Health. Nearly 50 students had talked with counselors before noon Friday.
Classes were not officially dismissed by Director of Schools Dallas Williams, but McClain was allowing grieving students to go home if they desired.