The victim in a fiery crash on Interstate 75 in Bradley County on Thanksgiving night was a longtime employee of the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
Charles “Chuck” Kirkpatrick, 45, worked as a graphic designer at the newspaper for the past 15 years. He formerly was an employee of WATE, Channel 6.
Bradley County EMS sent two ambulances and a shift commander to a car crash just before 10 p.m. At the 34-mile marker northbound a Toyota Camry left the roadway, struck a tree, then burst into flames.
When the emergency crews arrived, the car was involved with flames. The fire was too hot for responders to approach. The Bradley County Fire and Rescue subdued the fire.
Authorities said the driver started to go off the left side of the road, then over-corrected and went off on the right side. The vehicle then struck a tree. The driver was not wearing a seat belt.
Mr. Kirkpatrick was the only occupant in the vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Bradley County Medical Examiner arrived to assist with the investigation and transport.
He was headed back toward Knoxville.
"We thought we were going to make it through the Thanksgiving holiday without any traffic fatalities. The holiday season is so unpredictable, but historically it seems like we always respond to at least one bad accident," said Stan Clark, EMS spokesperson.