|On February 11, 2018 at approximately 8:15 PM, westbound Interstate 26 was temporarily completely shut down near the Rock Springs Road interchange (approximately the 6 mile-marker) due to a motor vehicle collision. The hazardous scene was clearly marked with flashing emergency lights from multiple Kingsport Police Department cruisers.
In addition to the illuminated vehicles, Officers had placed several emergency flashing signal devices, known as light pucks, along the stretch of roadway ahead of the crash scene. No less than three Kingsport Police Patrol Officers were directing traffic while wearing reflective traffic vests and hat covers and carrying flashlights with illuminated orange traffic cones.
Meanwhile, a red 2010 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, driven by Jeremiah J. Barkley, was westbound on I-26 approaching the crash scene. Mr. Barkley continued on, failing to yield or follow traffic instructions, traveling in excess of 50 mph, passing all Officers who tried to stop him. He was completely oblivious as he passed the first officer, then the second, and ultimately a third Officer.
All three Officers waved frantically in an attempt to stop him without success, and all three had to take last-second evasive action in order to avoid being struck by the pickup. One Officer lost control of his flashlight which was then run over and destroyed by the pickup. Finally, the fourth a final Officer was able to get Mr. Barkley stopped just before the crash scene.
Further investigation determined that Mr. Barkley had been consuming alcohol; however, he was able to successfully complete field sobriety tasks administered to him. Mr. Barkley told the Officers that he had been talking on his cell phone and did not see them in the roadway. He also was not able to provide proof of current insurance coverage on his vehicle.
Mr. Barkley was subsequently arrested for 1) Felony Reckless Endangerment (3 counts), 2) Vandalism under $1,000, and 3) Failure to Comply with Financial Responsibility Law (No Insurance). He was transported to the Kingsport City Jail where he remains confined pending arraignment. Due to the lack of insurance coverage, his vehicle was towed to a storage lot pursuant to current State Law.