One person dies when car crashes into Watauga Lake


Photo by Dave Boyd
High-Angle Rescue Team member John Burleson prepares to dive into Watauga Lake to search for a submerged car. Two people emerged alive from the car, but the third person was dead, and was pulled from the water later on.

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khelms@starhq.com
One person was killed and at least one more injured in a one-car crash around 5:45 p.m. Saturday on Highway 67 near Lakeshore Marina.
Details were sketchy at press time, but according to sources at the scene, a vehicle had been reported traveling at a high rate of speed and passing vehicles erratically just before the accident occurred.
The car, which was believed to be a Chevrolet Cavalier, left the roadway near a pull-off area, traveled down an embankment and into the water.
Two persons were able to get out of the car and were transported to Lakeshore Marina by boaters. They reported that a third person was still inside the vehicle. Emergency personnel were called to the scene and the two were transported to Sycamore Shoals Hospital by Carter County Rescue Squad. Squad members said that one of the victims was injured.
The squad's High-Angle Rescue Team, Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Eddie Tester, THP Investigator Danny Bowman and THP Sgt. Danny Talley of Newport responded to the accident, along with members of Carter County Sheriff's Department, Hampton-Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Department, and Tennessee Constables Association.
David Nichols, assistant EMS director, said HART Team member John Burleson, who entered the water, reported visibility of only about 4 feet. Nichols said the vehicle was believed to be in about 14 feet of water.
Washington County's dive team was called to Watauga Lake and located the vehicle within approximately three minutes. Nichols said the vehicle was on its top when found and a subject, believed to be male, was found halfway out of the car. The body was recovered by divers and taken to Watauga Point by boat before being transported to a medical facility.
Several Carter County residents gathered at a pull-off near the accident scene, waiting for a wrecker to pull the car from the water so they could hopefully put their worst fears at rest.
One man said he was concerned because his sister drove a Cavalier. Another man also waited solemnly to see the vehicle.
"My son drives a Cavalier," he said.
Identification of the victims and further details were unavailable at press time.