East Tennessee father takes guardrail campaign to Washington, D.C.

One crash in November 2016 claimed the life of Stephen Eimers' 17-year-old daughter Hannah. Her car went off the roadway on Interstate 75 in McMinn County, hitting a guardrail that pushed Hannah into the backseat.

ALCOA (WATE) – An East Tennessee father says he’s surprised that he was invited to a one-on-one meeting with transportation regulators in Washington, DC. It’s the latest step in his campaign aimed at a specific type of guardrail end terminal involved in deadly crashes.

One crash in November claimed the life of Hannah Eimers, 17. Her car went off the roadway on Interstate 75 in McMinn County, hitting a guardrail that pushed Hannah into the backseat. Her father, Stephen Eimers, was sent a bill by mistake for $3,000 to replace the guardrail.

Wednesday afternoon, Eimers delivered a letter to the Federal Highway Administration from him and four other families affected by the X-Lite guardrail end terminals. Eimers figured security would just take the letter and hand it off, but that’s not the case.

“I have nine living kids. These devices are still out there and my daughter is safe. I believe my daughter is in heaven. We’re not because those devices are still on the roadway,” Eimers said. “I want my daughter back, and I will not get that this side of heaven,” he said.

Hannah Eimers (source: family)

Previous story: ‘Open your eyes,’ Lenoir City father urges Tennessee lawmakers to make changes to guardrails

“We’re calling on the Federal Highway Administration, for the first time in their history, to rescind a letter of approval. The Lindsay X-Lite is extraordinarily dangerous and it needs to come off our highways,” said Eimers.

If the letter of approval is rescinded, it would remove X-Lite’s safety eligibility status. The families want the equipment gone nationwide. It’s already happening in Tennessee over the coming weeks.

“We have the evidence on our side, but ultimately I am just one David fighting a pretty big Goliath,” Eimers said.

Eimers also wants a look at every aspect of traffic safety.

“I have to be able to look at that next person that finds themselves where we are and say I tried,” he said.

He hopes his letter is taken seriously.

“I lost my oldest daughter. Malcolm lost his dad. That’s a steep, steep price to be invited,” Eimers said.

Once Eimers gets back home to Knoxville, he says his work is not done. The family plans to set up a foundation in Hannah’s honor to help children that she held very close to her heart who don’t have parents or are born with Down syndrome.

Lindsay Transportation Solutions, maker of the X-Lite end terminals, issued another statement on Tuesday saying:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Eimers family. Safety is our number one priority at Lindsay Transportation Solutions. The X-Lite guard rail end terminal has successfully passed crash and safety tests in accordance with FHWA standards and criteria, and remains qualified for use on America’s roadways. As experts such as FHWA have pointed out, there are impact conditions that exceed the performance expectations of all road safety equipment, and the equipment’s inability to singly prevent every tragedy does not indicate a flaw or defect. A variety of factors, including whether road safety equipment is installed and maintained in accordance with the AASHTO Roadside Design Guide, can affect the severity of an impact. While federal crash testing is intended to assess a variety of conditions, no test can replicate every possible scenario.

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