Man nearly dies from heart attack after four-car accident

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

   A 69-year-old man nearly lost his life following a four-vehicle accident on West Elk Avenue Monday after he suffered an apparent heart attack while officers were speaking to him about the wreck.
   Thomas Clemmons, who was the driver of one of the vehicles involved in the accident, was taken to the emergency room at Sycamore Shoals Hospital by emergency personnel with the Carter County Rescue Squad.
   "The Squad told me they lost him when they first put him into the ambulance, but they were able to bring him back with medication," said Elizabethton Police Department Ptl. Michael Merritt, who had been talking to Clemmons when the attack apparently began.
   According to Merritt, Clemmons had been driving in the left-hand of two eastbound lanes on West Elk Avenue when he ran into the rear end of a pickup truck driven by Jonathan Braswell, 26, which was also in the left-hand lane.
   After being struck by Clemmon's vehicle, Braswell's car ran into the rear end of another vehicle driven by Julian Golik, 44, who was working his postal route. After striking Golik's car, Braswell then crossed over into the right-hand lane and struck a fourth vehicle driven by Roy Coffey.
   "The only thing I know is the light changed, and I started through," Coffey said. "Then I saw (Golik's car) shoot past me and then (Braswell's pickup) slammed into the side of me."
   Braswell sustained a minor injury to his arm in the accident, according to Merritt, and Coffey complained of abdominal pain and advised officers that he had recently underwent surgery, and he believed the accident had aggravated his condition.
   A passenger in the truck driven by Coffey, Miranda Pilk, was arrested at the scene of the accident on outstanding warrants held by the Carter County Sheriff's Department.
   Merritt stated that while they were speaking to Clemmons he advised them that he was not feeling well. "When we first got him out of the vehicle to talk to him and I started asking him some health-related question he started complaining of not feeling well," Merritt said. "He said he must have dozed off and that he was not feeling good, that he was feeling very weak.
   "Due to a medical condition he apparently blacked out and did not remember anything prior to the accident."
   Merritt stated that he feels that Clemmon's medical condition may have been a contributing factor to the accident.
   Clemmons was listed in critical condition Monday evening at the Intensive Care Unit at Sycamore Shoals Hospital.