Man charged with vehicular homicide in North Knoxville crash, suspected to be on drugs

WATE 6 On Your Side staff - KNOXVILLE (WATE) - One person is dead after a multi-vehicle crash in North Knoxville Monday morning. The driver said to be responsible has been arrested on vehicular homicide charges and is suspected to have been under the influence of drugs.

Jesse Johnson, 24, is charged with vehicular homicide, failure to maintain a lane, no proof of insurance and driving without a license.

Tennessee Highway Patrol says the crash happened just after 6 a.m. on Maynardville Highway near Quarry Road. A 2004 Jeep Cherokee driven by Johnson was going south when it crossed the center line and sideswiped a Ford Explorer driven by Jose Montanez, 27.

Johnson then continued southbound in the northbound lane and hit a 2007 Honda Civic driven by Kaitlyn Devries nearly head on. Devries was killed in the crash. Montanez was not hurt.

Johnson had non-life threatening injuries. An arrest report from the Knox County Sheriff's Office says he had also been involved in a property damage crash earlier in the morning. Deputies went to speak with him at the hospital and say he was very confused and talked in circles when trying to answer questions.

They said Johnson was uncooperative and would not answer most of the questions asked. He said he didn't remember being involved in a crash and admitted to a nurse he had taken meth, cocaine and marijuana. He was taken to the Knox County Detention Center after he was released from the hospital. A drug test has been requested.

Residents concerned about speeding on Maynardville Highway

Drivers in the area say they are concerned about excessive speeding along the road.

"The road needed to widened," said Lorie. "There' too much traffic coming in and out of Maynardville, it needed to be widened, but at the same time it just opened it up like an interstate to most people."

Lorie says the construction along Maynardville Highway is causing drivers to be reckless.

"They fly by you like they're going to run you out of the road. As I'm taking the left, cars coming at you are just horrible. They're speeding, you can't take the left because of fast they're coming at you. You can't judge because somebody will come behind another car and just start flying. It's very dangerous."

Maynardville Highway is currently under construction to transform the road from a two lane to five. The project will be completed in three phases. The first began in 2011, but it is currently in phase II.

Kali Spradlen owns the Highway 61 boutique off of Maynardville Highway. She says driving to and from work can be scary.

"I live here, I work here, it's just the problem that people don't slow down, don't pay attention, distracted driving, whatever it is, this is a problem area."

Lorie says she was involved in a wreck on Maynardville Highway after the construction started.

"I was driving towards Knoxville from here and a young fellow just couldn't see me because of all the traffic that was there. He pulled out of the Weigel's and hit me in the side and flipped me over a few times."

She says she hopes something can be done to prevent speeding and future wrecks.

"More speed limit signs, maybe some police presence, slowing people down, letting them know that the speed limit through here is 45, because typically when you see a cop people will slow down."

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