2 killed in Clinton Highway crash that started with police chase

Both directions of Clinton Highway closed near Lonesome Dove Road

clinton highway crash

POWELL (WATE) – Two people died in a crash Friday on Clinton Highway near the Anderson-Knox county line that started with a police pursuit.

Tennessee Highway Patrol says the Knox County Sheriff’s Office was trying to stop a 2001 Ford driven by Roy Simmons, 29, of Helena, Georgia, in the northbound lanes near West Beaver Creek. The vehicle then fled.

While being pursued by Knox County deputies, Simmons lost control in a curve and crossed the center line. He hit a 2005 Mitsubishi Eclipse driven by Holly Henry, 44, of Oak Ridge, in the front left side, causing her to run off the roadway. Simmons’ vehicle then hit a 2008 Toyota driven by Misty Tanner, 33, of Knoxville, head on.

A 2015 Mercedes driven by Nancy Donsbach, 61, of Knoxville, hit Tanner’s vehicle in the rear. That impact caused Simmons’ and Tanner’s vehicles to spin around in the roadway. Tanner’s vehicle hit Simmons’ in the passenger side, pushing the passenger compartment into the driver compartment.

Donsbach’s vehicle went off the right side of the road.

Simmons and his passenger, Charles Miller, 25, of Powell, were killed. Tanner and Donsbach were injured, as were Tanner’s passengers, Caprice McElmore, 56, and McKinley Tanner, 2.

Eddie Williams works at Williams Transmission on Clinton Hwy. He was walking outside to go get lunch when he heard and saw the crash occur right in front of him.

“It was a big crash. The ground quaked, bunch of smoke flew up and there were parts in the air and everything when it happened,” said Eddie Williams.

Simmons’ family issued a statement saying, in part, “On behalf of the late Roy Michael Simmons family, aka ‘Jayr’ would like to make the following statements: We would like to state that regardless of what led to the accident the outcome is still the same: our family, as well as other families, have experienced pain and suffered a loss and for that we are deeply sorry, our thoughts and prayers go out to those who were injured and our hope is that recovery and healing will come soon. We cannot express enough how saddened our hearts are for the loss of Charles Miller. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Miller family with our deepest sympathy as we all get through this difficult time. Jayr will be remembered as a person who had the kindest soul, who loved his children, his family, and God more than anything…”

WATE 6 On Your Side tried to reach out to others involved in the crash but were unable to do so. Some of those injured are still in the hospital. The UT Medical Center spokesperson says McElmore and Misty Tanner are now in stable condition. There is no update available on the others.

Williams says it was a scene he unfortunately won’t soon forget.

“We’ve seen wrecks before and there have been fatalities here but that was a lot worse than normal that was a really bad wreck,” said Williams.

There is a seven page policy on how the Knox County Sheriff’s Office is to handle pursuits. It reads a sustained high speed pursuit is allowed if the suspect is believed to have committed a serious offense but if the pursuit creates unreasonable danger the pursuit shall be terminated.

More online: Read the policy [PDF]

THP said they weren’t able to release any updates on Monday. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office says they cannot release more details until THP’s investigation is complete.

Clinton Highway was closed near Lonesome Dove Road for about five hours Friday.

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