Sheriff Jim Hammond said Wednesday an exhaustive investigation found no evidence of foul play in the death of Gail Palmgren off a Signal Mountain bluff.
He said at an afternoon press conference, "There is no evidence for anything other than it was a tragic accident."
Traffic Investigator Sgt. Mark Kimsey said Ms. Palmgren was traveling north near 1400 East Brow Road heading toward the W Road when she veered across the centerline and then sharply over-corrected her red Jeep Rubicon. She said the vehicle then went out of control, first striking a 472-pound boulder before carrying it with it over the bluff.
He said Ms. Palmgren was alone and there was no evidence that her vehicle had any contact with another car. He said the vehicle had not been altered in any way.
Sheriff Hammond said Ms. Palmgren had dropped her two children off at the couple's upscale home in the St. Ives subdivision around noon on April 30, then she drove off. He said her husband, Matt Palmgren, arrived home at 12:15 p.m. and was there at the time of the crash.
The time of the wreck was put at between 12:26 and 12:38 p.m. due to cell phone records. Sgt. Kimsey said, "At 12:26 she was at the top and at 12:38 she was below."
He said she probably died instantly and likely would not have survived had she been wearing her seatbelt. He said she was ejected through the top of the Jeep.
Her disappearance was a mystery until an aerial search turned up the red Jeep in early December.
Sgt. Kimsey said his unit "can tell the who, the when, the where and the how. We'll never be able to tell you why."
The sheriff said the couple's two children were brought to the scene and shown exactly what happened.
Sgt. Kimsey said the boulder that was knocked off by the Jeep was recovered and will be returned to the top of the bluff.
He said there were no tire marks and no evidence on the ground at all.
Detective Rick Whaley said investigators found an envelope containing $80 addressed by Ms. Palmgren to her friend Arlene Durham in Alabama. He said that money was given to Ms. Durham.
He said there was no letter found to Ms. Durham, who told reporters the couple had been having marital problems and Mr. Palmgren was about to leave his wife.
Sgt. Mark Kimsey describes how Gail Palmgren met her death off a Signal Mountain bluff on April 30 as Sheriff Jim Hammond looks on