UPDATE: Report cites THP trooper as 'inattentive" in fatal I-24 - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

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UPDATE: Report cites THP trooper as 'inattentive" in fatal I-24 crash

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MARION COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: District Attorney Mike Taylor tells Channel 3 "I plan to formally advise the Tennessee Highway Patrol by the first of the week as to whether or not this office intends to pursue criminal prosecution in this case."

On Thursday, Channel 3 has received the final report on an accident involving a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer on Interstate 24 that killed a motorcyclist.

The report cites the trooper as being "inattentive" leading up to the crash. The trooper tested negative for drugs and alcohol. 

The THP says the trooper is on personal leave due to the crash.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.


PREVIOUS STORY: (AP) - A district attorney says a final report is expected to be finished soon on an accident involving a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer on Interstate 24 that killed a motorcyclist.

Twelfth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Mike Taylor tells the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/1WAmGWs ) he expects a final report as soon as Tuesday in the April 23 accident near Haletown that killed 66-year-old Jim Garner of Ringgold, Georgia.

Authorities have said Garner's motorcycle collided with a Tennessee Highway Patrol vehicle driven by Trooper Clyde Reeves.


PREVIOUS STORY: Nearly one week since a motorcyclist was killed on Interstate 24, the Tennessee Highway Patrol shut down part of that section of roadway to reenact the events, which involved one of their own troopers.

We now know Trooper Clyde Reeves was driving the patrol SUV that struck and killed Jim Garner, 66.

Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons released a statement Friday that reads, “The Department of Safety and Homeland Security is saddened by the tragedy that occurred last weekend in Marion County,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.

“Our condolences are with the victim’s family and the Trooper Clyde Reeves and his family.  This is a sad situation for all involved. 

This is an ongoing investigation therefore, we are working with the District Attorney’s Office and are not at liberty to release information.”

On Friday, TDOT and THP closed the right-hand lane of Interstate 24 so the Tennessee Highway Patrol could reconstruct the scene of a deadly accident involving a trooper.

The crash investigation and reconstruction began shortly after 10:30 Friday morning at Mile Marker 161 at the Nickajack Bridge over the Tennessee River. During the reconstruction, the outside lane (slow lane) of the Nickajack Bridge on I-24 East was closed to allow the investigation to take place safely.  The closure was expected to last about two hours.

The trooper's patrol SUV and Garner's motorcycle were not used in the recreation. Both vehicles sit in a secure lot on THP property.

Marion County District Attorney Mike Taylor said it is an "odd situation" for THP to be investigating one of their own, but he says THP is the only agency available with the expertise to re-create fatal crash scenes.

According to Taylor, he expects THP to give him the final crash report sometime next week. Once THP completes its investigation the findings will be handed over to his office to determine if criminal charges will be filed in the crash. 


PREVIOUS STORY: Channel 3 Eyewitness News spoke to an eyewitness who was with an injured motorcyclist - just moments before the man died. The motorcyclist was involved in a crash with a Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper and another car. Officials have not yet released the names of those involved in Saturday’s crash. As the eyewitness tells Channel 3, the memory of the I-24 Marion County deadly crash is hard to shake.  

Jacob Beavers says he slammed on his brakes when he crossed the Nickajack Bridge and saw debris flying everywhere. He noticed a man lying face down on the pavement. Beavers got out of his truck and stayed with the man until first responders showed up.

Orange spray paint marks the stretch on Interstate 24 in Marion County where a crash took the life of one man. Jacob Beavers was on his way home from the Cornbread Festival when he saw the crash. “As I was stopping, you could see stuff flying, plastic, things like that,” said Beavers.

Beavers said he saw the crash involving a motorcycle stopped in highway traffic along with a THP trooper. The same trooper who flew by him a few miles back. “That state trooper passed me a mile back and I was running 5 miles per hour over the speed limit. He passed me going towards the bridge.”

Certified in CPR, he rushed to help the motorcyclist identified by family members as 60-year-old Jim Garner. “I stood there with him along with the state trooper in the accident. I was checking his pulse. He was in bad shape.”

Beavers never left Garner's side. He says the man died moments before the paramedics arrived on scene. “I was just trying to help somebody if I could. Maybe keep him alive, while I was there if he needed CPR or something.”

It was difficult for Beavers to be there in Garner's last moments, but he knows he was at the right place at the right time. Now he has questions about how the crash happened, and if it could have been prevented. “If that tractor trailer stopped in time without hitting anybody and the car in front of him stopped without hitting the motorcycle that state trooper must not be paying attention.”

The other drivers involved in the crash were not injured. THP has not released any information, including the name of the trooper involved, citing an ongoing investigation. The District Attorney will review the outcome of that investigation and decide if criminal charges will be filed.

Funeral services for Jim Garner will be held Tuesday. 


PREVIOUS STORY: A fatal accident on Interstate 24 Eastbound near mile marker 161 involving 2 vehicles, one being a Tennessee Highway Patrol unit and a motorcycle has the road closed until at least 10:00 p.m. Saturday.  

Lt. John Harmon with the Tennessee Highway Patrol tells Channel 3 the motorcyclist died. The other drivers are not injured. 

He says there will be a lengthy investigation and for drivers to find alternate routes. 

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