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Road conditions may be cause of fatal wreck
Nov 20, 2012 4:00 pm
Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan has been at the scene of a lot of motor vehicle accidents in his career. He was living a parent's worst nightmare Friday when he was called to the scene of a fatal accident involving his son, Robert L. Bryan.
"Physically, he's OK," Bryan said of his son Monday afternoon. "It's a shock."
He acknowledged it's different even for a law enforcement officer when family is involved.
"That shield drops real quick when it's one of your own," he said. "You cannot be prepared for that."
According to the accident report by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, on Friday shortly before noon, a head-on collision at the intersection of Walter Morris Road and Conatser Road claimed the life of a Wilson County postal carrier.
Trooper Michael Baker reported a 1991 Dodge Spirit, driven by postal worker Joseph P. Grandstaff, 66, of Old Hickory, and a 2002 Ford Explorer, driven by Bryan, 20, of Lebanon, crashed head-on. Bryan was wearing a safety belt while Grandstaff was not. The preliminary report indicates there was no suspicion that either party was drinking or using drugs at the time of the crash but, as is routine in a fatal accident, tests were requested.
The trooper's report said Grandstaff was traveling west on Walter Morris Road, entering a blind right-hand corner, while Bryan was traveling in the opposite direction entering the same corner.
"Both vehicles struck each other head-on in the center of the corner," the report said.
Grandstaff's vehicle came to a final rest in the ditch on the right side of the road, while Bryan's vehicle came to a final rest on the roadway facing north, directly in front of Grandstaff's vehicle.
Baker's report said if Grandstaff had been wearing a safety belt it would have "made a difference." No citations were issued at the scene. Baker's report also indicates that criminal charges are "pending."
Paul Fields, who lives with his family on Walter Morris Road, said the width and height of the road, and the prevalence of bushes along its sides, likely played a role in the wreck.
"This is the second person to die on this road in three years," he said. "This road is a very lightly traveled road; the problem is that the road has too many bushes and is too narrow."
He said until recently the road was not paved, which kept speeds down.
"The county paved the road last year, so now it is so easy to go too fast. Before, it was tar and gravel and that kept speeds down," Fields added. "The paving is so high that you can't let your tire go off the pavement or you will rip your oil pan off because of the steep pavement. One neighbor on this road did just that and it cost her $1,100 to fix."
Fields said as a concerned parent, he is reluctant to allow his daughters to drive on the road.
"Something needs to be done. You would think since the Wilson County sheriff lives on this road, something could get done about making it wider," he said. ''I have two driving-age daughters, and I make them go the other way out the road toward the Smith County side because it isn't paved and much wider because you can get over in the grass."
Funeral services for Grandstaff will be Sunday at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Lebanon. Visitation will be at Sellars Funeral Home in Lebanon on Saturday from 2-8 p.m.
As for Bryan, he is focusing on making sure his son has all the support he needs to get past the tragedy and reaching out to the Grandstaff family as well.
"I used to talk to Joe Grandstaff all the time when I was a detective. I would tell him to be on the lookout for burglars since he was on the road delivering mail," he said. "The other family involved in this is a great family, and my prayers are with them."
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 45 or email@example.com.