|On December 27, 2015 at approximately 6:20 AM, Kingsport Police Patrol Officers responded to a major motor vehicle collision on Airport Parkway (State Route 357) near Centenary Road in Kingsport. Due to the severity of injuries, the K.P.D. Traffic Unit was called out to reconstruct the crash. Their subsequent investigation revealed the following:
A 2016 Subaru Outback, driven by Kathleen J. Kooiker, was traveling (correctly) north in the northbound lanes of Airport Parkway. A 2002 Toyota Tacoma, occupied by driver Billy J. Stevens and passenger Raythen F. Blankenship, was traveling (incorrectly) south in the northbound lanes of travel, left of the center grass median, head-on into oncoming traffic. While the precise reason why Mr. Stevens was driving on the wrong side of the road has yet to be determined, it can possibly be attributed to him driving in dark and foggy conditions on an unfamiliar stretch of roadway.
The Toyota struck the Subaru in a head-on impact. All three occupants received serious incapacitating injuries and were transported to Holston Valley Hospital by Sullivan County E.M.S. Both vehicles sustained disabling damage and had to be towed from the scene. Several lanes of Airport Parkway remained closed for approximately three hours to allow for a thorough investigation and safe removal of vehicles and debris.
It is important to note that two of the individuals involved in this crash were properly restrained as required by law; however, Mr. Blankenship was not wearing his seatbelt, and not by coincidence, he was also the most seriously injured of the three.
Wearing a seatbelt can easily make the difference in a motorist being seriously injured or killed in a crash versus literally walking away from the crash with minor injuries or completely unscathed. The Kingsport Police Department encourages ALL occupants of ALL motor vehicles to wear their seatbelt ALL of the time. It is the law, but more importantly, it might just save a life.
This crash remains under investigation by the K.P.D. Traffic Unit with potential charges pending.