Two injured in fiery wreck

Photo by John Bryant
Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze that destroyed two cars following an accident on U.S. Highway 19E Thursday afternoon. Two individuals were injured in the accident.

  By Abby Morris-Frye and Thomas Wilson
star staff;
  Two people were injured Thursday afternoon following a two-car collision on U.S. Highway 19E. The accident resulted in a blaze that destroyed both vehicles.
  According to Elizabethton Police Department Ptl. Carl Burrough, Eston Treadway, 84, 2303 Siam Rd., was trying to turn left from Sycamore Street onto the northbound lanes of U.S. Highway 19E when he pulled his truck into the path of a sedan driven by Deborah Ann Blevins, 53, 192 Wilson Ave.
  Burrough said the sedan hit the truck in the driver's door area and damaged the fuel tank, which was visible following the crash. According to emergency personnel on the scene, fuel then leaked out of the truck and caused both vehicles to ignite and be destroyed by fire.
  The crash also forced both vehicles from the southbound lanes of U.S. Highway 19E across the median into the northbound lanes of the highway.
  Blevins was transported by the Carter County Rescue Squad to the Johnson City Medical Center and Treadway was transported to Sycamore Shoals Hospital.
  Burrough said at press time that the victims' injuries were not life-threatening. He also said Treadway had been charged with failure to yield in the accident.
  Several individuals who witnessed the accident shared their observations with The STAR.
  County school board member Chuck Madgett was one of several motorists who stopped to help victims at the scene. He helped Treadway into his own SUV to await medical attention while firefighters extinguished the burning cars.
  "I saw the smoke from up the highway," Madgett said.
  Ronnie Blevins of Elizabethton had just left work at the Carter County Highway Department and was heading home when he saw a "fireball" erupt in front of him.
  "It was like a big Roman candle went up," Blevins said. "It was so bright it would blind you."
  Scott Vines of Butler was driving behind Treadway on Sycamore Street when the accident occurred. He said Treadway's truck had pulled onto the highway when Blevin's car struck him and the two cars burst into flames.
  "I felt the heat off of it," Vines said. "I figured they'd burn up."
  Vines said Blevins exited her vehicle and was standing in the median clutching her chest only seconds after the accident. He said he helped her away from the scene and asked her to sit in his car while she waited for paramedics.
  "I was in shock a little bit," he said. "That was the worst wreck I'd ever seen that close."
  The accident snarled traffic on U.S. Highway 19E and South Sycamore Street for more than 30 minutes while public safety workers cleared debris. Traffic was diverted from Highway 19E onto Stateline Road temporarily to allow emergency personnel to put the fire out and clear the scene.