UPDATE: Charges pending after deadly McMinn County crash
Charges are pending in a deadly head-on crash that happened in McMinn County on Friday.
Charges are pending in a deadly head on crash that happened Friday in McMinn County and the woman who could be held responsible for the crash is in critical condition.
It happened around 5:00 p.m. in the 4500 block of Highway 11. State troopers say 45-year-old, Sherry Mason was driving north when she hit another car head-on.
The driver of that car, 25-year-old, Michael Ryne Thornburg, died at the scene.
State troopers say distracted driving has become an epidemic. Already there have been 33 distracted driving crashes in McMinn County this year.
"Distracted driving is becoming an epidemic," said Lt. John Harmon, Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Residents along Hwy 11 say they often see drivers speeding and not paying attention.
"A young man the other day was riding his bicycle and he had to jump out of the way," said neighbor Donnie Womac. "I was watching him he had to jump out of the way of a car."
Donnie Womac tells Channel 3, his son was one of two men who ran to help both drivers involved Friday's crash.
Sherry Mason told first responders she had dropped a cigarette moments before impact.
"She told us she had dropped the cigarette so that's how we lead that she crossed the center line," said Lt. Harmon. "Of course it's still under investigation and charges are pending."
Friends say Thornburg always wore a smile, he loved his family, he loved to sing and he'd always be there for a friend in need.
Womac is praying for his family.
"God bless you, know that's just something that God has to take care of," said Womac.
Officials say Mason was airlifted to Erlanger in critical condition. She was given a drug and alcohol test but troopers are still waiting on those results.
Lt John Harmon wants this crash to serve as a warning to other drivers.
"There's many distractions that we have in our car, natural distractions that we don't even think anything about."
Troopers have seen a spike in drivers texting, eating and reaching for items in the floorboard.
"They need to watch for that person that might cross that double yellow line," said Lt. Harmon.
"I don't understand," said Womac. " Seems like it's gotten worse over the years, they've never learned the dangers of it."
According to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, in Hamilton County there have been 251 distracted driving crashes so far this year and officials reported 1,067 distracted driving crashes in Hamilton County last year.
This past April, 52-year-old Wesley Cummings and his wife, 49-year-old Wanda were hit and killed on a motorcycle in Whitefield County
The man who struck them told police he was trying to light a cigarette before impact. The driver, Gary Cooper suffered minor injuries. He's now charged with First Degree Homicide by Vehicle.
PREVIOUS STORY: Charges are pending in a deadly head-on crash that happened in McMinn County on Friday. According to a preliminary report, troopers said 45-year-old Sherry Mason was driving a Jeep Cherokee and traveling north on Highway 11.
She told first responders she had dropped a cigarette and while she was reaching for it, she swerved into the path of an Infiniti G-35 traveling south on Highway 11 and hit it head-on.
The driver of the Infiniti, 25-year-old Michael Thorn bug, died at the scene. Mason was airlifted to Erlanger Medical Center.
Troopers said drugs may have been a factor in the crash.