Drivers call for change on Chapman Highway after fatal wreck

Drivers call for change on Chapman Highway after fatal wreck

Posted:
Jeff Tussell, 45, and Courteney Kaliszewski, 16, were killed Sunday in a crash  on Chapman Highway near Zion Hill Church Road. Jeff Tussell, 45, and Courteney Kaliszewski, 16, were killed Sunday in a crash on Chapman Highway near Zion Hill Church Road.
According to Tennessee Highway Patrol, there have been more than two dozen wrecks in that same area in the last five years. According to Tennessee Highway Patrol, there have been more than two dozen wrecks in that same area in the last five years.
"I've seen wrecks all up and down here," said Lynn Gilbert, who works on Chapman Highway near Zion Hill Church Road. "I've seen wrecks all up and down here," said Lynn Gilbert, who works on Chapman Highway near Zion Hill Church Road.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Sunday's deadly accident involving a church van has renewed concerns about the safety of Chapman Highway.

Drivers and residents in Sevier County repeated their concern about speeding and the road's design after Jeff Tussell, 45, and Courteney Kaliszewski, 16, were killed Sunday in a crash  on that highway near Zion Hill Church Road.

Tussell and Kaliszewski died when an SUV driven by Tyler Schaeffer crossed the center line and hit the church van head on.

"I've seen wrecks all up and down here," said Lynn Gilbert, who works on Chapman Highway near Zion Hill Church Road.

According to Tennessee Highway Patrol, there have been more than two dozen wrecks in that same area in the last five years.

In a report from THP, there have been 27 accidents since 2007 in the half-mile section of Chapman Highway between Old Zion Hill Road and Zion Hill Church Road.

The wrecks resulted in one fatality in 2007 and 11 injuries. That information does not include the two deaths from Sunday's wreck or the several injuries.

Gilbert didn't see Sunday's wreck, but has witnessed many others over the years.

"I've seen several wrecks, almost been hit trying to come in here," he said from his produce stand at Chapman Highway. "I wonder sometimes if they're going to run through here."

Drivers say after every wreck people complain about the highway.

"There's quite a bit of traffic on it and they travel extremely fast. To me it's dangerous, and I think the speed limit ought to be lowered," said Dave Cooper, of Seymour. 

"Speed is the problem. They speed through here 70-80 miles an hour," Gilbert added. 

A lack of a turn lane in that portion of the highway contributes tot he problem. Even with a blinker light marking the intersection, making a turn on the windy road is a dangerous task.

"It's even scary turning off the road. We were afraid to open a car door. And if someone's coming down and they lose control, you don't stand a chance," said Cooper. 

According to Tennessee Department of Transportation, that section of Chapman Highway sees an average of 14,000 cars per day.

After this weekend's accident, nearly 30 people have signed a petition on Change.org calling on local lawmakers to redesign the highway.

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