Note: This story was last updated at 10:15 p.m.
One person died after a multi-vehicle crash in the parking lot of Midtown Community Center sent at least a half-dozen people to the hospital after fireworks in Oak Ridge on Saturday night, authorities said.
The man who died has a Knoxville address, but police aren’t identifying him yet because family members are still being notified. It appeared that the man was on foot at the time of the crash, authorities said. The man who died was with his wife and children, Oak Ridge Police Chief Jim Akagi said.
Akagi said at least six people, including two children, were sent to three hospitals in three ambulances. The injured were taken to Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge and Children’s Hospital and University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. Their names and conditions weren’t immediately available.
Akagi said a pickup involved in the crash hit several vehicles, although it’s not clear how the man who died was injured.
It’s also not clear how fast the red Dodge pickup truck was going or whether it was backing up, he said. Witnesses said the truck had been parked at the east end of the parking lot facing east, or away from the entrance, and the driver backed up to leave as soon as fireworks were over. Witnesses said the truck was in reverse and driving fast. So far, authorities have been unable to confirm that.
“We don’t know what happened,” Akagi said.
But the truck’s back end appeared to have struck at least one vehicle.
Akagi said there were at least a half-dozen vehicles involved in the crash. He said he didn’t know if any other vehicles were moving at the time of the collision.
An accident reconstruction team was still at the Midtown Community Center, also known as Wildcat Den, at about 2 a.m. Sunday. The entire parking lot, which is off Robertsville Road near Oak Ridge Turnpike, was blocked by police tape and nine cars remained parked near the crash site.
Akagi said the reconstruction team would probably be there overnight. The reconstruction includes equipment known as total station provided by the Clinton Police Department. It will allow officers to reconstruct the crash more precisely, Akagi said.
Many of the details of the crash remained unknown, including the conditions of those injured and their ages, whether the pickup truck driver was by himself, and whether speed was a factor. Akagi said it could be a while before the cause of the crash is determined.
Many emergency personnel were across Oak Ridge Turnpike at Alvin K. Bissell Park for the Oak Ridge fireworks show at the time of the crash. Oak Ridge Fire Chief Darryl Kerley said crews were on the scene within 60 seconds. It was a chaotic scene, with hundreds of people in the relatively narrow parking lot, cars parked on both sides of the lot, dozens of emergency workers, shaken witnesses, injured people, and crashed cars.
“This is one of the most chaotic scenes I’ve ever seen since I’ve been in Oak Ridge,” Akagi said.
Some people were at the parking lot to watch fireworks. It’s possible that some parked there to walk across Oak Ridge Turnpike to A.K. Bissell Park to watch fireworks.
Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark happened to be doing a ride-along with an Oak Ridge Police Department officer on Saturday night, and he was at the Midtown Community Center within minutes, helping to interview witnesses and injured people.
Akagi said it’s too early to say whether any charges might be considered.
Besides the ORPD and Oak Ridge Fire Department, other law enforcement agencies also came to help. They included Anderson County Emergency Medical Services, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, and Clinton Police Department.
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department helped Oak Ridge answer emergency calls by stationing six deputies inside the city, Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said.
Akagi said he was very grateful to the CPD and Chief Rick Scarbrough and the ACSD and Lucas for their help. Without their assistance, the chief said, Oak Ridge could not have maintained its “total level of response.”
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Note: See newer story with more information here.
Several injuries reported in parking lot crash, injured taken to area hospitals
— Posted at 1:45 a.m. July 5
Several injuries were reported in the multi-vehicle crash at Midtown Community Center after fireworks in Oak Ridge on Saturday night, and the injured were taken to area hospitals, authorities said.
Oak Ridge Fire Department Chief Darryl Kerley said he thinks six people were transported in three ambulances to area hospitals. Their conditions and identities were unknown. There were reports of more serious injuries to one person, but Kerley wasn’t able to comment on the seriousness of that person’s injuries.
The crash was reported at about 10:25 p.m. Saturday. It appeared to involve three or more vehicles in the parking lot of Midtown Community Center. There were two more vehicles in the parking lot with apparent damage, although it wasn’t immediately clear if the damage to those cars was related to the Saturday night crash. Still other vehicles remained at the scene while police and fire units investigated.
One man who had been sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck in the parking lot pushed his wife out of danger when he saw one of the vehicles approach, Kerley said. The approaching truck hit him and something cut his leg, and the man went to the hospital after Kerley took the man and his family home to get their van.
Oak Ridge police officers and firefighters were still at the scene at about 1 a.m. Sunday, and the Clinton Police Department was helping with a traffic reconstruction device.
Authorities investigating multi-vehicle parking lot crash, at least one injury reported
— Posted at 11:38 p.m. July 4
Authorities are investigating a multi-vehicle crash that occurred in the parking lot of the Midtown Community Center after fireworks in Oak Ridge on Saturday night.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many vehicles were involved in the crash, which was reported at about 10:30 p.m., although there appeared to be at least three. There were reports of at least one injury.
Authorities had requested help from a Lifestar medical helicopter, although one was apparently not available, possibly because of weather.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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