Note: This story was last updated at 8 a.m. Jan. 16.
An Oak Ridge police officer on Friday disputed the claim that the throttle might have been stuck on a pickup truck in a fatal July 4 crash at Midtown Community Center immediately after fireworks in A.K. Bissell Park.
Police say they’ve found no evidence of a malfunction in a Dodge Ram pickup driven backward through the crowded parking lot that night by Lee Cromwell of Oak Ridge, and there were no active recalls on the truck that would have affected the throttle. Police also used witness statements to help refute the stuck-throttle theory during a preliminary hearing in Anderson County General Sessions Court on Friday, January 15.
“Several of them (witnesses) said they heard his engine revving up and down,” Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Ben Higgins testified during the hearing. “If the throttle had been stuck, it would have been stuck at a consistent rpm, not up and down.”
Also Friday morning, Julia Robinson testified. She is the widow of the 37-year-old man who died, James Robinson of Knoxville. The couple was at the Midtown Community Center watching fireworks with their two daughters and a relative.
Besides killing James Robinson, the crash injured 11 other people, some of them children, authorities said.
An officer and a witness have both testified that Cromwell, who has not testified yet, told them that his throttle stuck.
Cromwell faces 17 charges, including three different types of homicide charges, 12 counts of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and a charge of driving on a suspended license.
The preliminary hearing resumes at 1:45 p.m. Friday at General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge.
Update: The charges against Cromwell were bound over to a grand jury on Friday afternoon after Anderson County General Sessions Court Judge Roger Miller said there was sufficient probable cause to do so. The grand jury will consider whether to indict Cromwell on the charges. See this story for more information.
See previous stories on the crash here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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