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KPD names driver killed by flying metal piece from tractor-trailer

Knoxville Police say the St. Louis, Missouri, driver died after a metal wind skirt from a tractor-trailer penetrated his window and struck him.

Knoxville — UPDATE 10AM MONDAY: The Knoxville Police Department has identified the motorist killed Sunday by flying debris on Interstate 40 as Mark Elliott, 71.

Elliott is from St. Louis, Missouri, according to KPD.

Police are still looking into the circumstances of how the debris struck Elliott's car as he drove near Cedar Bluff.

The preliminary cause of the incident appears to be a metal wind skirt from a tractor-trailer that either broke off of an eastbound tractor-trailer and was thrown into the westbound lanes, or the wind skirt had already come off from a truck and was thrown into the westbound lanes after being struck by another vehicle.

The wind skirt hit the westbound vehicle in the driver's window killing the driver.

"With it coming from the side, they probably never saw it coming," KPD spokesman Darrell DeBusk said. "One of the passengers in the vehicle was able to act quickly and turn the car because they saw the ramp. They got the vehicle over to the Cedar Bluff ramp, and because the ramp goes uphill, the vehicle was able to come to a stop on it's own."

Investigators are working to recreate what happened--starting with the piece they believe flew off the truck and through the window.

The metal wind skirt is a square piece of metal that sits in front of the first tire of the trailer, right behind the cab of the truck.

"We have the Tennessee Highway Patrol here on the scene. They do commercial vehicle enforcement, with truck inspections," DeBusk said. "They are also going to look at that part and see if there's any type of identification on that part that may link it back to some type of vehicle."

DeBusk says KPD chaplains are doing what they can for the family.

He says these accidents do happen, but a driver's death is rare.

If you were traveling in that area and witnessed the vehicle being hit or possibly items falling from or being thrown from a tractor-trailer, please call the KPD Hit and Run Office at 865-215-7370. Information can also be submitted through KPD's Facebook page @KnoxvillePD.

ORIGINAL STORY: Knoxville Police are conducting an investigation after strange circumstances led to the death of a driver this morning.

Around 10:35 a.m, officers and investigators responded to the Cedar Bluff exit ramp from I-40 west. They say they received a call that the driver of a vehicle was struck by an unknown outside object causing his death.

Police say the driver had other passengers in the car and they were approaching the Cedar Bluff exit when the object penetrated the driver's side window and struck the driver.

KPD says passengers were able to maneuver the vehicle onto the exit where it rolled to a stop. The driver was pronounced dead on the scene.

Multiple officers and investigators are currently on the scene investigating to determine what caused the incident. WBIR will continue to follow this and share additional information as the investigation continues.