Homeowner concerned after multiple accidents on Chapman Highway

Homeowner concerned after multiple accidents on Chapman Highway

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Beverly Atkins lives on an embankment off Chapman Highway where it intersects with Ingle Hollow Road. The most recent accident was Tuesday morning. Beverly Atkins lives on an embankment off Chapman Highway where it intersects with Ingle Hollow Road. The most recent accident was Tuesday morning.
"If we had been out here [on Tuesday,] we would have been killed,” Atkins said with worry. "If we had been out here [on Tuesday,] we would have been killed,” Atkins said with worry.
It’s a sharp curve on the section of Chapman Highway, with cars speeding past. The sheriff’s department says the bigger problem is distracted driving. It’s a sharp curve on the section of Chapman Highway, with cars speeding past. The sheriff’s department says the bigger problem is distracted driving.
By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – Time and time again, Beverly Atkins awakes to the sound of a car crashing through her bushes and crossing over her lawn off Chapman Highway.

“There’s been crash after crash,” said Atkins.

She lives on an embankment off Chapman Highway where it intersects with Ingle Hollow Road. The most recent accident was Tuesday morning.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department says the driver fell asleep while driving, crashed through Atkins yard and went down another embankment next to Ingle Hollow. The car went over a 60 foot drop, flipping at least once. The driver and two passengers were taken to a local hospital for head injuries.

“We thought for sure they would be killed,” she said. “She was flying. I'd say 70 miles an hour.”

Atkins contacted 6 News to see if anything can be done. According to the sheriff’s department, there have been two accidents this year at that intersection, but in the eight years Atkins has lived at the property, she says there have been at least seven.

It’s a sharp curve on the section of Chapman Highway, with cars speeding past. The sheriff’s department says the bigger problem is distracted driving.

A drunk driver crashed in 2011 into the church neighboring Atkins’ home. He drove straight through the brick wall.

“If they had been there inside that room that day, they would have been killed. If we had been out here [on Tuesday,] we would have been killed,” Atkins said with worry.

Atkins lives just up the road from where two people were killed in a church van crash. TDOT put in rumble strips but Atkins says that’s not enough.

Previous story: Two die when church van collides with SUV in Sevier County

“It’s not going to prevent a crash when you’re flying down this road, something needs to be done, you don’t know who to call, you don’t know what to do, that’s why we called you all,” she said.

She says a guardrail on Chapman Highway in front of her house and on the portion of Ingle Hollow Road where it drops off would help.

“Look at that embankment, should there not be a guardrail here?” she asked.

There are guardrails along other stretches of Chapman Highway. Atkins says she called TDOT but never received a call back.

We spoke with a spokesperson who said there are no current projects in the works for that section of Chapman Highway, but they would be happy to investigate the area to see if it meets the criteria for installation of guardrail.

“A guardrail is warranted if the slope or bank is short and really steep, or still very steep and extremely deep and that cars are likely to overturn if they go off the road. Guardrail is not warranted if the slope is traversable and cars less likely to overturn,” TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi said in an email.

The Sevier County Highway Department would be in charge of installation of any guardrail on Ingle Hollow Road. Jonas Smelcer, the road superintendent, says he hadn’t heard any concerns but after we brought it to their attention they will add it to the list of places to look at to install a guardrail.

Atkins says she hopes it happens sooner rather than later.

“When you have accident after accident, it’s only a matter of time before there are fatalities.”

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