Four fatal traffic crashes this week


The number of fatal traffic crashes in Knoxville this week rose to four on Thursday, a statistical outlier that police declined to comment on while they were still probing the string of deadly collisions.

The first fatality took place Monday night while the fourth happened early Thursday morning, police said. 

“I am going to refrain from making any comments on the string of fatal crashes right now. As far as general safety, we always want to encourage and implore motorists to exercise great caution while on the roads,” said Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Scott Erland.

On Monday night, a man was killed when the SUV he was riding in drove into the rear of a KAT bus on Magnolia Avenue. Early Tuesday morning, a motorcyclist was killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer near the Asheville Highway exit of Interstate 40.

  Next, a fiery Wednesday night crash in the same section of I-40 involving a tractor trailer and two other vehicles claimed the life of a third person, Erland said.

The 7:30 p.m. crash took place near Strawberry Plains Pike when a westbound vehicle crossed the median and hit an eastbound vehicle, according to Erland.

“Vehicle one was then struck by a tractor trailer that was also traveling eastbound. Both vehicle one and the tractor trailer subsequently caught on fire following that collision,” Erland said. 

 The driver of the vehicle that crossed the median and burned was pronounced dead at the scene, while the two occupants of the other automobile sustained non-life threatening injuries, he said. The tractor trailer driver wasn’t hurt.

All lanes of traffic on I-40 were closed until shortly after midnight so investigators could reconstruct the crash. 

A little over six hours after the I-40 crash, a pedestrian was struck and killed on Alcoa Highway near Topside Road, Erland continued.

“Based on the preliminary investigation, it is believed that the female pedestrian was attempting to cross Alcoa Highway when she was subsequently struck by a passenger vehicle as well as a second passenger vehicle seconds later,” he said.

The identities of the deceased weren’t released Thursday. 

Over the past five years, Knoxville has averaged approximately 30 people killed in automobile crashes per year, or about 2.5 deaths per month, according to KPD data. 

Erland stressed the importance of paying close attention when behind the wheel of a vehicle as well as following all traffic laws. 

“Motorists should obey all of the rules of the road, which exist to keep people safe and prevent crashes that result in serious injury or worse,” he said. “Of particular importance, people should always wear their seatbelt, never drive while they are impaired and should make every effort to reduce distractions. Driving requires more concentration and focus than people realize so 100 percent of one’s attention should be devoted to the task of driving.”

Published on June 18, 2021