February 11, 2006
A "very knowledgeable" Long Hunter State Park ranger was killed during a trip to his mailbox, struck by a car driven by a Lascassas man.
Authorities say no charges will likely be filed in connection with the accident which claimed the life of Ranger Charles Ross Pahnke, 58, who was pronounced dead outside his Central Pike home shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday.
According to reports on file with the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the victim died after getting his mail when struck by an auto driven by a man identified as Richard Lent Williams, 48, of Lascassas.
The reports state Pahnke "was crossing Central Pike" near Stewarts Ferry Pike "after getting his mail" and was later "pronounced dead at the scene."
Though no charges or citations were issued as a result of the mishap, blood and alcohol tests have been requested for the victim and Williams, who according to accident reports was traveling east in a Ford pickup truck when the accident occurred.
The posted speed limit in the area is 35 miles per hour, accident reports indicate.
Long Hunter State Park Ranger Thurman Mullins described Pahnke as a "very knowledgeable" ranger who was considered "very much a historian" by his co-workers.
"It was a very, very unfortunate accident, and we're certainly going to miss him," Mullins said.
He said Pahnke "had been a resident of Wilson County for quite a while and lived there on Central Pike in the same house for a number of years."
Pahnke was known to lead excursions to parkgoers in exploring historic Sellars Mound, just one of several areas in which his knowledge of history often delighted visitors to Long Hunter, Mullins said.
"He's sure somebody who's going to be missed a great deal," Mullins said.
Mullins was a neighbor and longtime co-worker of the victim, saying the two "started out together" as rangers at Nashville's Bicentennial Mall in January 1996.
"He was one of the original seven rangers at the mall," Mullins said.
Witnesses contacted Mullins, who lives only about a mile away, shortly after the mishap, he said.
"I was called about as soon as it happens. I just live a mile away and I went up there and it was him… It's just a terrible, terrible tragedy," Mullins said.
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long Hunter ranger dies in auto accident
February 11, 2006