ROANE COUNTY—A 50-year-old Rocky Top man died and one person was injured when a car crashed off Poplar Creek Road and into Poplar Creek just north of west Oak Ridge late Tuesday morning, and criminal charges are pending, authorities said.
The man who died, Warner D. Martin, was a passenger in a silver 2006 Mazda 3 four-door car driven by Rebecca L. Vanasse, 26, of Oak Ridge, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Carrying three people, the car swerved on the narrow, curvy road and overcorrected, the THP said in a fatality report. Because of the overcorrection, the vehicle went down an embankment along the westbound side of the road and into the creek, where it became fully submerged, the THP said.
The single-vehicle crash was reported on Poplar Creek Road a few miles east of Blair Road at about 11:04 a.m. Tuesday. The front end of the car appeared to have plunged into the creek first.
There is no shoulder and no guardrail along the road, and the steep embankment drops down about 15-20 feet to the creek, which was brown and muddy and appeared to be swollen from recent rains on Tuesday. There is some light brush and a few trees along the creek bank.
THP Trooper Nathaniel Crow and a Roane County deputy went into the water to help with the rescue and recovery, and the Oak Ridge Fire Department also responded to help at about 11:25 a.m.
The THP report said Vanasse was injured, although it didn’t include information on the extent of her injuries or whether she was taken to a hospital.
Another passenger, Ethan James Alexander Wilson, 26, also of Rocky Top, had injuries listed as unknown in the report.
All three of the car’s occupants were wearing seat belts, the THP report said.
The report said Vanasse had not been drinking, but it said troopers did not know if she had used drugs. Tests have been requested, which is routine in fatal crashes.
The report said tests have also been requested for Warner, the man who died, although it’s not known if he had been drinking or used drugs. Tests were not requested for Wilson, the passenger who survived.
The crash was investigated by THP Trooper James Capps.
Besides THP and Oak Ridge Fire Department, crews responded from Blair Volunteer Fire Department and Roane County Sheriff’s Office. Roane County Medical Examiner Thomas Boduch, a doctor, responded, and so did Roane County Medical Examiner Sandy Eaton, a death investigator/emergency medical technician. A towing crew, rescue squad, and ambulance crew also assisted.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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