One injured as motorcycle, vehicle collide

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   The driver of a motorcycle sustained injuries to his head and was transported to a local hospital after his motorcycle struck another vehicle which had pulled into his lane of travel around noon Friday.
   Mark Anton Grindstaff, 31, 112 Lancelot Drive, was transported from the scene of the accident to the Johnson City Medical Center by emergency personnel from the Carter County Rescue Squad. At the time of the accident, responders feared that Grindstaff had suffered severe trauma to his head as a result of the accident. Elizabethton Police Department Patrolman Michael Merritt stated that after he was taken to the hospital and underwent examination, it was determined that his injuries were not as severe as suspected.
   "He was alert and talking and didn't seem to have any major trauma as was originally thought," Merritt said. "He didn't have any broken bones, just some swelling and bruising around his face." Merritt added that Grindstaff may have suffered a concussion.
   According to Merritt, the Honda motorcycle driven by Grindstaff was traveling eastbound on Broad Street when it struck a Chevrolet Blazer driven by Vanessa Bennett, 16, of Milligan Lane, Johnson City. "She was pulling out from N. East Street, attempting to make a lefthand turn into the westbound lanes of Broad Street," Merritt said.
   Witnesses at the scene reported to Merritt and other police officers at the scene that the motorcycle had been in the lefthand lane of the eastbound lanes of traffic on Broad Street and that Bennett's view of that vehicle had been obstructed by a van which was in the righthand lane and was slowing down. Bennett then pulled out across the lanes of traffic and apparently began to watch the traffic in the westbound lanes for an opening to merge, Merritt said. "Witnesses stated that she came to almost a complete stop in the road to see if she could make it into the westbound lanes," he added.
   At that time, the motorcycle struck the rear portion of the Blazer in the area of the driver's side rear wheel well. "There were witnesses behind the motorcycle and behind (Bennett's) vehicle that stated that the motorcycle was not operating in a reckless manner or at a high rate of speed," Merritt said. "The driver of the motorcycle tried to maneuver to miss her vehicle and he almost did."
   Grindstaff was listed as being in serious condition Friday evening at the medical center. Bennett has been charged with failure to yield to oncoming traffic as a result of the accident.