Local man killed, local couple injured in Greene County wreck

By Abby Morris

A two-car traffic accident early Monday morning on Interstate 81 near Exit 30 in Greene County left one Elizabethton man dead and an Elizabethton couple injured.
   Christopher King, 35, died Monday night at the Johnson City Medical Center as a result of injuries sustained in the wreck.
   According to Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Kevin Brobeck, who investigated the crash, the accident started when King lost control of his Dodge Neon while traveling southbound on I-81 around 6 a.m. on Monday.
   King's car ended up broadside in the middle of the road, said Brobeck, and was struck in the passenger door by a Ford Taurus driven by Robert Gobble, Sr., 65, also of Elizabethton. His wife, Esther Gobble, 61, was a passenger in the car at the time.
   "It was a T-bone type collision," Brobeck said.
   Brobeck said it is not clear what caused King to lose control of the vehicle.
   "Why Mr. King's vehicle was sitting broadside in the interstate I don't know," he said. "I will not speculate as to what happened. Mr. King passed away last night at the hospital so we will never know.
   "It could have been a number of things," Brobeck said. "He could have fallen asleep at the wheel and panicked when he woke up, or a deer could have run out in front of him and he swerved to miss it."
   Mr. Gobble did not see King's car stopped on the interstate until just seconds before colliding with it, Brobeck said. "Mr. Gobble just didn't have time to stop," he said.
   According to Brobeck, King was not wearing his seat belt, and he was "partially ejected" from his car, which rolled over several times before coming to rest on its roof in the median of the interstate.
   After being treated at the scene by emergency personnel, King was transported to the JCMC by a Wings Air Rescue helicopter. He was initially listed in critical condition that morning, but he died later that evening due to injuries sustained in the accident.
   Mr. and Mrs. Gobble were transported to Laughlin Memorial Hospital in Greeneville. Mrs. Gobble was later transported to the JCMC where she was listed in "good condition" Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Gobble was released from LMH Monday evening.
   The collision and rescue efforts closed down the southbound lanes of I-81 for more than half an hour.