Residents on High Point Road in Cocke County are begging county officials for help after emergency responders had to rescue a man stuck chest-deep in mud.
Philip Denny had been living on High Point Road for five years. He said that on Wednesday, he was helping his family put down gravel on the road when he took a wrong step and sank into the mud.
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Denny’s family tried to help him out, but couldn’t, so they called 911.
After the rescue, Denny and his family worried that someone else could get stuck, possibly a child. If it was a child, they would be afraid the child wouldn’t make it out alive.
“They want us to walk kids in and out of that road to get on a school bus, and what are we going to do if one of those kids sink down in the road?” Denny asked.
Joyce Sutton, a resident on High Point road for 29 years, said she and her family have pleaded with the county for many years to pave the road. She said county officials always directed her to the highway department, while highway department officials said High Point Road was privately owned and maintained.
To clarify about the muddy road’s actual name, residents told WATE 6 On Your Side the original name is ‘High Point Road,’ while the county calls it ‘High Point Way;’ as does Google Maps.
For residents, it’s always been the unpaved High Point Road. A muddy, now-dangerous road thanks to recent record rainfall.
Sutton said she and her family don’t have the funds to make the road safe, or even passible.
“I just wished everybody had a heart and thinking about everybody else. Not just think about theirself and how it’s going to cost them. ‘Cause believe me, if I had the money I would dump it out there. I just don’t have it,” Sutton said.
Sutton and Denny said they have reached out to any government official they thought would be able to help. They called the county mayor, officials in Nashville and even FEMA.
Everyone kept telling them the county’s highway department was the only department that could do something.
Sutton said the road has gotten worse over the years. Her husband used to lay gravel on top of the mud so they could leave.
Sutton’s husband died over the summer. The ambulance couldn’t make it through the road. She said her family had to take his body down the road so an ambulance could take him away.
When the ambulance brought his body back, Sutton’s family had to carry him back up the road to bury him.
There have been other mud rescues recently where residents got stuck; Denny’s incident was the worst – so far.
County officials said High Point Way (Road) has never been under their jurisdiction.
Travis Dawson, a chief of the Centerview Volunteer Fire Department, said he was one of the emergency responders called to help Denny out of the mud this week.
Dawson said he had never seen a situation like that before. Only two of his trucks could get close enough to Denny to help with the rescue.
Dawson was so worried that if any of those houses caught fire, his crew wouldn’t be able to help.
He said he wants to do something to make sure those families on High Point Road could get whatever emergency help they need.
Dawson wasn’t sure how, but said he will talk with other property owners in the area to find out if there is another way around.
Residents are aiming to continue to try to get the road the repairs and updates it desperately needs for the sake of safety. They say they plan on attending the next county commission meeting to speak – again.
WATE 6 On Your Side is continuing to follow this story. Stay tuned as we learn more.