Police sergeant escapes crash, DUI data on trend with yearly data

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – In the same June week, multiple suspected DUI crashes brought Knoxville police officers out to respond. One sergeant recalls the moment he was nearly hit by a suspected drunk driver.

Knoxville police responded to a crash on southbound Interstate 75 at Callahan Drive just after 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. Officers had stopped a wrong-way driver when a driver struck a Knoxville Police Department cruiser, pushing the car into a second KPD cruiser.

The cruiser was assigned to Sgt. Nathanel Skellenger, a 10-year KPD veteran.

“It happened quicker than anything that’s happened before,” said Skellenger.

As part of protocol, when officers are responding to any vehicle or road-related accident they are trained to look both ways over their shoulder before they step into the road. Skellenger said he did this, but even so, the car was moving so fast he only had seconds to react.

“Initially it’s, ‘Okay I’m fine, okay let’s deal with what just happened. Yeah, I just got hit by somebody, but we still have to check on what just happened,'” said Skellenger.

The driver of the second vehicle was suspected to be under the influence.

DUI Crashes by the Numbers

The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports 2019 year-to-date alcohol related crashes are trending to be on track with 2018 statistics.

The date reflects the Knoxville District which includes: Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier and Union counties.

In 2018, THP investigated 201 alcohol-related crashes. There were 97 injury-related crashes and 11 fatal crashes.

In 2019, tracked until June 16th, THP investigated 96 alcohol-related crashes. There have been 52 injury crashes and seven fatal crashes.

KPD reports in 2018 there were 445 adults and two juveniles arrested. In 2017, 480 adults and two juveniles were arrested.

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