Driver who hit Monroe Co. publisher suspected of impairment

Driver who hit Monroe Co. publisher suspected of driving impaired

Nicholas Steffa in a 2002 mugshot. (Source: Blount County Jail) Nicholas Steffa in a 2002 mugshot. (Source: Blount County Jail)

GREENBACK (WATE) - The publisher and editor of a Monroe County newspaper was seriously injured Monday in a car accident.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says the other driver may have been impaired at the time of the wreck.

William "Dan" Hall, 31, who manages the Daily News Express in Madisonville, was on his way back from taking a friend and her daughter to Children's Hospital at the time of the incident, according to his father, Wes Hall.

Hall was driving southbound on Highway 411 in Loudon County near Greenback around 6:30 Monday morning.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said another driver, Nicholas Steffa, 42, of Sweetwater, crossed the center line, striking Hall's car head on.

According to the THP report, officials believe Steffa may have been driving impaired at the time of the accident and charges are pending against him.

Both Hall and Steffa were critically injured and were airlifted to University of Tennessee Medical Center for treatment. Steffa was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the wreck.

Hall suffered a fractured arm and leg as well as facial injuries.

On Monday afternoon, Hall's father told 6 News that his son had reconstructive surgery on his hands and was recovering in the Cardiac Intensive Care Recovery Ward.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Steffa was in serious condition at UT Medical Center.

Steffa has an extensive arrest record in multiple counties including multiple DUI arrests, marijuana possession, driving on a suspended license, burglary, aggravated assault, criminal impersonation and public intoxication.

In August, Amelia Keown, 16, was killed in a head-on collision on the same road, just several miles from the location of Dan Hall's accident.

There are similarities with both accidents. Both drivers crossed the center lane and both were convicted felons with a lengthy criminal history. 

Amelia's mother Amanda Moore has pleaded to the governor and lawmakers to keep convicted felons off the road. Wes Hall said he would consider joining her in those efforts. 

"We need to make them mad enough where they won't take it anymore, and hopefully we can save some lives, get some more officers out here on patrol, and put the convicts away," he said.

The newspaper's staff said in a statement on the newspaper's Facebook page that it will not publish an issue on Tuesday.

"The staff at the DNE wishes him a speedy recovery and asks for your prayers and understanding in this difficult time," the Facebook statement said.

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