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Victims identified in multi-vehicle I-40 crash near Sevierville exit

Part of eastbound I-40 was shut down more than five hours Saturday.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — UPDATE 4 PM MONDAY: An Iowa motorist was killed and two members of a Missouri family suffered injuries when a Georgia driver crossed Saturday into oncoming traffic on Interstate 40 near the busy 407 exit, a Sevierville spokesman said.

The crash happened about 6:40 p.m. Saturday.

According to city of Sevierville spokesman Bob Stahlke, a police investigation shows a 2017 Jeep Wrangler driven by Darryl Kerr, 40, of Morganton, Ga., crossed from the interstate's westbound lanes, through a median and into eastbound traffic.

It's not clear yet what prompted the Jeep to swerve across the lanes and collide with oncoming traffic.

Kerr was taken to University of Tennessee Medical Center by helicopter.

Bettina Koelzer, 55, of Marian, Iowa, was killed in the crash while driving a 2015 Subaru Forester, according to Stahlke.

A 2020 Ford Explorer also was caught up in the crash. The vehicle, driven by Daniel Merrifield, 51, of Fallon, Mo., rolled.

Vincee Merrifield, 43, and Jerra Merrifield, 21, who were riding in the Ford, suffered injuries and were taken by helicopter to UT Medical Center.

A 2003 Freightliner tractor-trailer and a 2019 Nissan Altima also were involved in the crash. Their drivers did not require hospital treatment.

Part of the interstate was shut down for more than five hours.

"The accident remains under investigation; no charges have been made at this time," according to Stahlke's release.

PREVIOUS STORY: One person is dead and multiple people are injured after a crash involving five vehicles on I-40 East in Sevier County, according to officials.

All lanes of I-40 East were closed as of 8:30 p.m. Crews were rerouting traffic at Exit 402, according to Sevierville Police.

The initial investigation showed that a vehicle traveling west crossed the median into eastbound traffic near Exit 407, near Winfield Dunn Parkway, around 6:40 p.m. on Saturday, police said.

Multiple people were flown to UT Medical Center, according to TDOT and SPD.

This is a developing story. It will be updated as more information is available

Credit: Stephanie Ann White
Credit: Stephanie Ann White

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