91-year-old man dies after crash with KPD officer

A local nurse describes how he reacted to a fatal crash involving a KPD officer.

KNOXVILLE - The Knoxville Police Department has said the driver involved in the crash with an officer has died. 

Dale Emerson Smelser, 91, of Jefferson City, was the driver of the van. Smelser died as a result of the crash. 

KPD said Officer Thomas Clinton was responding to an officer's call for assistance when he was involved in a crash just north of the intersection of Henley Street and Summit Hill Drive.

The crash happened around 12:41 p.m.

According to the preliminary investigation, Smelser was driving a Honda Odyssey van in the southbound lane of Broadway when police said he turned left in front of Officer Clinton’s vehicle.

Smelser was attempting to turn into LMU’s Duncan School of Law parking lot.

Smelser was transported to UT Medical Center where he was pronounced deceased. Officer Clinton was transported to UT Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office will conduct the investigation into the crash while KPD will conduct the administrative investigation.

Officer Clinton will remain on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the investigation, which is standard operating procedure, according to KPD.

People who work at the school say the large and busy intersection can be confusing to drivers unfamiliar with the area.

"It's kinda of hard seeing cars turning onto Broadway from Summit, you kind of have to gun it when you're leaving because you're never sure if a car is coming from Henley Street or Summit," said Keaton Murphy.

The exit to the school isn't easy to navigate either. Drivers have a hard time seeing traffic as they make a right turn onto Broadway.

"if you don't go pretty fast and there's a car coming, you're looking at a good chance of an accident happening," said Murphy.

The crash has school leaders listening and working to see what they can do to improve safety around their campus. They plan to reach out to the city with their concerns and see if anything can be done.

ORIGINAL STORY: An accident involving a Knoxville Police officer sent another driver to the hospital with severe injuries.

The accident happened near the intersection of Broadway and Western Avenue, near downtown Knoxville, shortly before 1 p.m. on Thursday.

KPD Chief David Rausch said the officer was rushing to assist another officer who was involved in a fight. The officer was running emergency traffic, with lights and sirens on, as he crossed the intersection in the northbound lanes of Broadway.

The patrol car crashed into a van that was turning left into the LMU Duncan School of Law parking lot. Chief Rausch believed the drivers may not have seen each other in time to avoid the accident.

The officer was transported to UT Medical Center with minor injuries. The other driver, who was not wearing a seatbelt, also went to UT with what the chief believed were serious to critical injuries.

Chief Rausch has requested the Knox County Sheriff's Office assist in the accident investigation. 

While the accident reconstruction is underway, drivers can not go north on Broadway at the intersection. One southbound lane is open. Western Avenue and Summit Hill are both open.


 

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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