Witness to deadly Knox County I-40 crash tried to save lives

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Two people died and several others were seriously injured after the deadly crash on Interstate 40 Tuesday afternoon.

Several people saw the terrifying moments unfold when those four cars crashed and one witness even tried to save the lives of the victims involved.

Skylar Echols described the scene as one of the worst car wrecks he has ever witnessed.

“It was very tragic. It was very scary for me because I have never seen something like that in my life,” said Echols.

Previous story: Drugs, alcohol factors in Knox County crash that killed 2

Echols happened to be behind the drivers who crashed between the Midway exit and the Sevier County line on I-40 Tuesday night.

“I hit my brakes and slide over to the side of the road.”

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office says a blue Toyota Camry was traveling east on I-40, when the driver, Chris Tueriff, 69, of Sevierville lost control and went into the median. The vehicle went airborne into the westbound lanes, landing on top of a Honda Accord, driven by Bryan Hannan, 22, of Strawberry Plains, who later died at the hospital.

“The Honda Accord went to switch lanes to get over because they were coming on a semi and as he did, he didn’t move up far enough when he switched and they clipped each other.”

With a race against time to save the lives of the people involved, several good Samaritans like Echols, stepped in to help.

He said, “I have never in my life climbed inside a mangled vehicle to save someone’s life, not knowing what could happen next.”

The passenger in Tueriff’s Toyota Camry was a 54-year-old woman who died at the scene. Other victims were still badly hurt.

“I climbed in the backseat of the Toyota Camry and leaned around in front. We cleared his airway so he can attempt to breathe,” said Echols.

First responders arrived and two people were transported by LifeStar to UT Medical Center.

What led up to that tragic crash has Echols staying up at night.

“I will always remember that incident. I will always remember the look on that man’s face.”

The sheriff’s office says the investigation is ongoing and more details are expected to come. Currently charges are pending against Tueriff. The sheriff’s office says drugs and alcohol were factors in the crash.

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