State contractor Summers-Taylor put up signs warning of uneven lanes in the hours after Tuesday’s fatal crash on Interstate 26. According to TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi, those signs were not up previously.
“This was addressed following the accident and signage was placed by the contractor prior to the night shift beginning work,” Nagi said. “Before the accident there was already ‘grooved pavement’ signage in the area, but there was not ‘uneven lane’ signage in the area.”
According to Nagi, those signs are not required by law. He says industry standards allow crews to use an engineering study or engineering judgment to decide whether or not they’re necessary depending on the job.
Johnson City police say witnesses told them 35 year-old Jeremy Stevens hit a patch of uneven pavement when he lost control of his motor scooter and was ultimately killed Tuesday.
Sgt. Jim Tallmadge says the wreck is as close to a true accident as he’s ever seen.
“This is one of those that I would consider to be nearly unavoidable under the circumstances,” he said.
According to Nagi, TDOT has opened an internal investigation regarding the crash. In the meantime, Summers-Taylor crews are still in the process of repaving that stretch of I-26 near Gray. The project is expected to be finished next week.
Summers-Taylor President Grant Summers went to school with Stevens.
“Jeremy’s death is a terrible tragedy,” Summers said. “I personally remember Jeremy from high school and he was always such a positive and kind person. I know he touched many lives in our area, from Parks and Recreation to Science Hill and Boone. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are (with) the family in this time of grief.”
In the moments before the crash police say Stevens was doing everything right. They say he was wearing his helmet and was driving the speed limit.
Officers say it’s still unclear just how much experience Stevens had driving motor scooters. In fact, they tell us he only recently started driving the particular bike involved in the crash.
Although police don’t expect to file charges against any of the other drivers involved, their investigation will remain open until those drivers’ voluntary blood tests are completed.
As for the signs now warning of uneven lanes, Sgt. Tallmadge says no one can say with any certainty if they would have made any real difference.
“There’s no way to say one way or the other whether that would have,” Sgt. Tallmadge said. “It just comes down to that circumstance at the time. There’s no way to know. If he had been able to travel that route nine times out of 10, it’s possible those nine times that it wouldn’t have had happened. This is just the one time that it did unfortunately.”Copyright WJHL 2015. All rights reserved.