MCMINN COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -
UPDATE: A horrible crash has parents warning their kids even more about the dangers of texting and driving. The accident that happened on Wednesday is one the many tragedies where texting and driving may have been the cause of a serious crash. The number of accidents involving teen drivers specifically ones texting behind the wheel is on the rise according to newly released data and one local repair shop that says they have been fixing one car after another
John Vanslyke, G&S Collision Center, "Its trending upwards for sure. I hear from customers everyday wanting an estimate because they said someone was texting and driving." Business is booming at G&S Collision Center.
Justin Sneed, G&S owner, "business has been a lot busier this year than last year. Its been good but unfortunately its not a good thing."
The local repair shop receives phone calls every day from people hit by someone using their phone behind the wheel.
"It's very concerning and has become more prevalent. I am also a driver out there, its disturbing more people are texting and driving"
John Sneed, a body show owner, says over half of the damaged vehicles at his shop involving texting while driving. A federal study found texting while driving is 6-times more dangerous than DUI.
"Texting and driving and people not paying attention. It only takes a seconds seems like we have had many more cars come in that have re-end impacts compared to last year."
25 percent of crashes or over 1.4 million accidents in the U. S. involve cell phone use. Driving while distracted, which experts say includes texting while driving is the number one killer, that claims teens lives every day across the U. S. Some of the crashes are repairable, but many cause permanent damage like the one in McMinn County that sent a deputy on duty to the hospital
"I've had a few customers actually admit they were doing it saying it happened so fast. That they looked down for a minute, looked up and it was over." _______________________________________________________________________________________________ UPDATE: "They were both conscious, but all I could get out of either of them were the groans of pain," said Lucas Cass.
Cass says he knew there was nothing he could do as he watched the car in front of him plow into a McMinn County Deputy.
"I was hoping he was going to realize he was in the other lane and would move over but then he never did," said Cass. "It just looks like he just turn the wheel and hit the cop straight on."
THP Spokesperson Sgt. Bill Miller says the deputy acted quickly to try and move as he saw the car approaching.
"The deputy slammed on the brakes and stopped the vehicle abruptly and pulled into the right hand shoulder to try and avoid the collision," said Sgt. Miller.
But he was unable to get out of the way, sending both to the hospital.
It happened around 7:12 on Wednesday morning, but the text message being sent two minutes earlier is what THP believes could have prevented the whole thing.
"There was not one thing that was being sent from that young man's phone that could not have waited until he had pulled over and gotten to a safe location," said Sgt. Miller. "It just takes one second to ruin the life of yourself or someone else's."
Lucas Cass tells Channel 3 he has learned a lesson through observation and will be more mindful of giving his full attention to the road.
"It's a wakeup call especially when you realize that it could have been you on the other side of the road that was hit," said Cass. "it's easy to place blame when something like that happens until it happens to you and I think that's one thing we need to remember is that cops may text, civilians may text, but it could have happened to anybody."
Both the deputy and the 17-year-old were sent to the hospital.
We're told the deputy suffers from a few broken ribs as well as a possible ankle injury. Both are in stable condition.
The 17-year-old was charged with failure to exercise due care and texting while driving. A teenager and a McMinn County deputy were airlifted to separate hospitals Wednesday morning following a head-on collision.
Just before 7:15 a.m. the deputy was traveling east on State Route 39. The 17-year-old from Englewood was travelling in the opposite direction.
The teen was allegedly texting causing the vehicle, a Honda Civic, to cross the center line. The deputy Randy Gabrel had his vehicle almost at a complete stop as he attempted to avoid the Honda.
The Honda continued to cross the center lane and hit the deputy's cruiser, a Dodge Charger, in an offset head-on collision.
The impact drove the cruiser backwards approximately 7 to 10 feet. Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts.
The teenager was airlifted to UT. He is facing charges of texting and driving, and due care. Deputy Sheriff Randy Gabrel was airlifted to Erlanger.