Pickup truck driver involved in Powell school bus crash charged with DUI

Local News

POWELL, Tenn. (WATE) – The driver of the pickup truck that collided with a school bus Tuesday has been charged with a DUI.

According to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, the driver, North Knox County resident Douglas Hemphill, 53, was driving with a suspended license for a previous DUI and had an open container of alcohol in his truck at the time of the crash.

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KCSO deputies investigating the crash Tuesday stated they found Hemphill, the suspect, standing by his 2001 Chevrolet S-10, the vehicle that collided with the school bus on W. Beaver Creek Drive, and he admitted to drinking a beer before the crash. 

“The suspect stated he was driving and had a strong smell of an alcoholic beverage… his eyes were red and watery, and he was unsteady on his feet,” KCSO’s report stated of the incident. 

A records check into his history, KCSO stated, found that Hemphill had a DUI conviction in 2013 in McMinn County and his driver’s license had been revoked from that event. 

At the scene of the crash Tuesday, Hemphill was unable to perform a field sobriety test due to a head injury sustained in the crash, as he’d allegedly hit the school bus head-on. Hemphill was taken to the hospital. Witnesses to the crash told investigators Hemphill’s vehicle had crossed the double yellow line and struck the school bus. 

Investigators also took an inventory of Hemphill’s truck and found one open can of Budlight Marg-O-Rita behind the driver’s seat. 

KCSO says Hemphill verbally consented to a blood sample test at UT Medical Center and it was taken by nursing staff. 

The one student aboard the school bus was taken to Children’s Hospital. The bus driver and the teaching assitant were also taken to the hospital for further evaluation. 

Hemphill has been cited with a second-offense DUI, driving on a revoked license, driving without car insurance and another miscellaneous traffic offense, according to the KCSO incident report. 

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