19E accident stalls traffic five hours; driver charged

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khelms@starhq.com

   A Roan Mountain man escaped serious injury Thursday when he lost control of the tractor-trailer he was driving on U.S. Highway 19E near Highland Clinic of Chiropractic in Roan Mountain.
   The accident occurred around 5:10 a.m., blocking traffic for five hours, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Jerry Proffitt.
   Richard Edward Yeager, 37, 199 Clarktown Road, Roan Mountain, was traveling north on 19E when his truck left the roadway, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.
   "After that, he completely left the roadway with the trailer and went into a stream. It almost twisted the truck in two," Trooper Proffitt said. The truck was fully loaded with large pear trees, which spilled into the roadway and along the creek bank.
   Jim Burrough, director of the Carter County Emergency Management Agency, said there was concern that a spill of diesel fuel which resulted from the accident was running into the stream. After checking it, however, it was determined that the spill was contained to the roadway. "It was really a minor amount and TDOT (Tennessee Department of Transportation) cleaned it up."
   Burrough said the accident could have been worse. "It was right in front of a day-care. Diesel is not that flammable, like gasoline or some other chemical. We didn't have to evacuate the day-care."
   Yeager sustained an injury to his right ear, but refused treatment by emergency medical personnel, according to Trooper Proffitt. He was charged with driving on a suspended driver's license, failure to maintain control of a vehicle, violation of the seat belt law, violation of the financial responsibility law, and violation of registration.
   Carter County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Keith Range and Deputy Brad Hamm assisted THP with traffic control, Proffitt said.