KPD e-News Release: Unrestrained Passenger Dies as Result of Airport Parkway Crash

Kingsport Police Department

200 Shelby Street • Kingsport, TN 37660

ThomasMPatton • 423-229-9433 (Desk) • 423-224-2786 (FAX)

http://Police.KingsportTN.govwww.KingsportPDBlog.com

NEWS RELEASE
SUBJECT: Unrestrained Passenger Dies as Result of Airport Parkway Crash
DATE: December 30, 2015
CASE #: 15-027970
GENERAL NARRATIVE
The Kingsport Police Department has been notified by Holston Valley Medical Center personnel that Raythen Fayne Blankenship has died after succumbing to injuries sustained in the recent Airport Parkway motor vehicle collision. His death came at approximately 12:40 PM on December 30, 2015, just three days after the crash.

Mr. Blankenship was a passenger in a Toyota Tacoma operated by Billy J. Stevens. It was being driven on the wrong side of the road, when it struck a Subaru Outback, driven by Kathleen J. Kooiker, head-on. Mr. Blankenship was not wearing his seatbelt as required by Tennessee state law. The other two individuals involved in this crash were properly restrained and survived the crash.

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.

As previously released:

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.

COLLISION VEHICLE #1 INFORMATION
Make Toyota
Model Tacoma
Year 2002
Type Compact Pickup
Color Maroon
Damage Disabling Damage
Driver Name Billy Joe Stevens
Age 39 Years of Age
Gender/Race Male/White
Residency Vansant, Virginia
Injuries Incapacitating Injuries
Passenger Name Raythen Fayne Blankenship
Age 44 Years of Age
Gender/Race Male/White
Residency Vansant, Virginia
Injuries Fatal Injuries
COLLISION VEHICLE #2 INFORMATION
Make Subaru
Model Outback
Year 2016
Type Sport Utility Wagon
Color Gray
Damage Disabling Damage
Driver Name Kathleen Joan Kooiker
Age 58 Years of Age
Gender/Race Female/White
Residency Osceola, Iowa
Injuries Incapacitating Injuries
RELEASING OFFICER
Thomas M. Patton, Public Information Officer

Kingsport Police Department Professional Standards Unit

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