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'Rolling roadblock' ended minutes before fatal crash
Jul 08, 2005 12:00 am
July 7, 2005
A so-called 'rolling roadblock" conducted by the Tennessee Highway Patrol ended just 10-15 minutes before three tractor-trailers crashed in a fiery fatal wreck, officials said Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the State Department of Safety indicated it is unlikely the maneuver played a role in causing the three-rig wreck, which killed an Arkansas man driving a U.S. Postal Service truck last week.
However, an investigation into the exact cause of the accident being conducted by the THP's Critical Incident Response Team has not yet been completed, the spokesperson said.
"They're still working on that," said Department of Safety spokesperson Melissa McDonald, adding it could be an additional 10 days to two weeks before the investigation is completed.
The DOS was initially unable to confirm comments from local police and emergency workers that state troopers were conducting a rolling roadblock at the time of the crash.
But McDonald said Wednesday troopers were conducting a rolling roadblock "in the area" but it ended "about 10 or 15 minutes before the crash occurred."
According to law enforcement officials, a rolling roadblock is exactly what the name implies, with officers driving along a roadway while maintaining a set speed to slow traffic.
When asked if the 10-15 minute lapse between the end of the roadblock and time of the crash meant the maneuver was not a factor in the wreck, McDonald replied, "I would say so."
The crash killed Larry Thomas Nicholson, 57, of Conway, Ark., according to accident reports.
The victim was driving a mail truck which burst into flames after apparently striking a tanker truck which then hit a rig hauling potatoes, officials said.
The accident left traffic snarled throughout much of the following day with emergency crew able to make only one lane of Interstate 40 east passable by mid-afternoon.
The June 29 crash marked the start of an exceptionally bloody stretch on Wilson County's roadways. The long July 4 holiday weekend saw two lives lost locally in two separate mishaps, authorities said.
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.