KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Two communities are grieving the loss of two drivers killed in a deadly wreck in Knoxville on I-40 Wednesday morning. The head-on crash turned into a fire and kept the interstate shutdown throughout the day.
Police say Anthony Swartz, 21, was in his SUV, going the wrong way on the interstate, and Carroll Trent, 67, was behind the wheel of the tractor trailer which caught fire in the collision.
The accident is any person’s worst nightmare but both families they say an accident like this is unbelievable.
“It’s all about love with him,” said Carroll Trent’s daughter Rachel Trent.
Their family was cherishing those moments of love from a father, husband, grandfather and brother on Thursday.
“Above all else, all my dad ever wanted to do was take care of his family. He’s driven a truck for 30 years. He’s 67 years old and refused to retire,” added Trent.
She says the family is wrestling with so many emotions because he was on his way home to Virginia when the crash happened.
“We all wanted to go to bed and feel like it was a bad dream and wake up. But I guess reality sits in this morning, like with my stepmom, my dad always called her from the road first thing in the morning.”
The Trent family says they have questions, some which may never get answered.
“I know the kind of person he is. He would want us to forgive. As tragic as this whole situation is, I mean regardless of what happened, my heart goes out to the Swartz family.”
For now, the Trents are holding onto their faith, knowing their dad is in heaven.
“The most important thing about him, he was a very God-fearing man and his life proved that. Everything that he did, every person that he met, he left an impression on. Every part of his life, you knew God was in it,” added Trent.
Closer to home, classmates and colleagues on Maryville College’s campus were grieving the loss of Swartz.
“We are grateful to have had Anthony among us, to have had the blessing of knowing him for four years. We are so heartsick at this accident,” said Reverend Anne McKee.
Maryville College says Swartz touched so many lives while he worked as a resident assistant, a cross country runner, a chemistry major and much more.
“His professors say he was one of the smartest chemistry majors they had had come through their program in many many years. He was absolutely brilliant and challenging in the classroom,” added Reverend McKee.
Swartz spent four years at Maryville College. Classmates say he was funny and compassionate.
“Just a few weeks ago we watched Anthony walk across the stage. So we know him and your heart, your heart just breaks,” said Reverend McKee.
She says the campus is also grieving for what could have been.
“Here is a young man who’s just graduated from college with his future ahead of him and I’m sorry both for his own life and for the world of what we won’t be able to have.”
The college community relying on faith, praying for the Trent family in Virginia as well as the Swartz family.
“God never deserts us and loves all His children and I think that is a source of great comfort,” said Reverend McKee.
The Trent family says a number of people from Knoxville have reached out to them over social media, sending warm wishes and prayers, which they say they’re grateful for.