Wreck leaves one dead, another injured

By Abby Morris and Lesley Jenkins
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com; ljenkins@starhq.com
A single-vehicle accident that occurred on U.S. Highway 19E on Wednesday injured one man and killed another, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Raymond Coleman Crabtree, 29, of 114 U.G. Buckles Rd., who was the driver of the vehicle, was fatally injured in the crash, and a passenger, Marshall Dautel, 28, of 246 Nave Hollow Loop Rd., sustained injuries.
The accident happened just minutes before 11 a.m. near the intersection of U.S. Highway 19E and Stateline Road. The two men were traveling in a Nissan Pathfinder SUV.
Crabtree was trapped in the vehicle when emergency workers arrived and had to be extricated. He was then flown by Wings Air Rescue to the Johnson City Medical Center.
According to Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Doug Brewer, who investigated the accident, Crabtree died while enroute to the hospital as a result of severe head and chest injuries he sustained in the crash.
Dautel was transported to the Johnson City Medical Center hospital by emergency personnel of the Carter County Rescue Squad. He was listed in "stable" condition Wednesday evening.
According to eye witness accounts, the vehicle had been traveling north in the inside lane of 19E when it left the roadway. "I was not too far behind him. He started going off to the side of the road, and I thought he was going to turn, but he ran off the road into the ditch," said Larry Fraser, who was driving behind Crabtree when the accident happened. "He struck the culvert there and hit that rise and went airborne. After he came back down the car started rolling. It looked like he was in a Nascar race the way he went airborne."
According to radio transmissions from the Carter County 911 Communications Center, the caller who reported the accident advised the car went approximately 14 feet into the air after striking the culvert. The vehicle then landed back on the roadway and rolled into the inside southbound lane of the highway, finally coming to rest with the driver's side against the pavement.
According to Fraser, the driver of the vehicle did not try to return to the roadway when he started drifting toward the median. "He started going over to the side of the road and just never corrected himself," Fraser said. "He never applied his brakes or anything."
Brewer stated neither Crabtree nor Dautel were wearing their seatbelts. He said that even though both airbags in the vehicle deployed, if the two men had worn their seatbelts death and serious injury might have been avoided.
According to Brewer, the cause of the accident is still under investigation. "Speed was not a factor, but I believe drug use was," he said. "It appears to have been drug use by the driver."
The southbound lanes of 19E were rerouted to Stateline Road while emergency crews worked to extricate the driver from the vehicle. The northbound lanes were closed so that Wings Air Rescue could land.
Members of the Carter County Rescue Squad, Carter County Sheriff's Department and Hampton-Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene.