Accident strains police resources

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   Some Elizabethton Police Department officers spent up to 10 hours Wednesday night and Thursday morning on the scene of a fatal accident which claimed the life of a young mother of three.
   "Officers were on the scene from 8:59 last night until 7 this morning and we still have some crew on the scene doing some last-minute photographing and measuring," Elizabethton Police Chief Roger Deal said around 11 a.m. Thursday.
   "Last night we had to call in five other officers to assist," he said, for a total of nine officers on the evening shift.
   Reconstructing the accident scene is "such a huge undertaking of a situation to do it properly and to do it safely. It just stretches your resources to the max," he said.
   "People may say, 'Why does it take so much time to work an accident, go down there and draw a picture or whatever?' There's a lot more to it. You've got to look at not only clearing up the scene for that night, but two years from now we'll probably be in court on this and we'll be testifying. So we want to have the most accurate information without any doubt as to what happened in this accident."
   That's why the police department's Special Traffic Accident Reconstruction Team was called in, he said. The STAR team consists of Capt. Rusty Verran, Ptl. Mike Merritt, Ptl. Mike Sproviero, Ptl. Jack Ramsey and Detective Greg Workman.
   "We still had the regular shift working that was also assisting. It took quite a bit of people to investigate this properly because we had to shut down the street and it took officers for that. They did an outstanding job," Chief Deal said.
   The reconstructionists were on hand to "retrieve every bit of evidence at the scene," whether through measuring skid marks, collecting a pill, interviewing witnesses, or taking photographs, he said.
   While officers were working a scene which they thought could not possibly get any worse, "at 1:48 a.m., a gentleman from Boone, N.C., by the name of William C. Greene, came through and demolished a $5,000 piece of equipment," Chief Deal said.
   A few years ago, according to Deal, the police department acquired through military surplus equipment "a large directional arrow like those used on construction sites that route traffic one way or another."
   Greene, who was driving a 2001 Chevrolet Ventura, "was on a straightway and apparently he fell asleep at the wheel," Deal said.
   Greene was uninjured, according to the police chief. No charges had been placed early Thursday.