Dayton community mourns loss of police chief's son
Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter
DAYTON, RHEA COUNTY, TN. (WRCB)-- The tragic death of an 18-year-old Rhea County High student is deeply felt across the Dayton community.
Family members say they're still not sure was caused Tyler Sneed to lose control of his car.
Sneed's wrecked Toyota pick-up was found off Highway 30 early Saturday morning. Sneed is the eldest son of Dayton Police Chief Chris Sneed.
Channel 3 was able to speak to Sneed's uncle late Sunday afternoon. He says Tyler was an avid hunter, and there's a possibility he was either going hunting or headed home when the accident happened.
"All I can say is there's a lot of prayers going up for these people," says Gail Harrold.
Sunday was the first time in days that Gail Harrold visited the property she's remodeling on Highway 30.
"My husband sent one of his workers here to do some work and they couldn't get in the driveway because police cars were all in the drive," says Harrold.
Harrold knew Tyler Sneed's car struck an embankment near her home, but she didn't know that after going airborne his truck landed on her driveway.
"That's hard, that'll be hard," says Harrold.
Hard because like the rest of the Dayton community, even those who didn't know 18-year-old Tyler Sneed, felt like they did.
"They say he was just like his daddy. Always cutting up and happy and, you know, just a good person," says Harrold.
Tyler's father Chris Sneed is the police chief. His grandfather was the sheriff for many years.
"He thought Tyler had just went to sleep or dozed off for a minute," says Harrold.
Family members say they're still not sure what caused the accident.
Harrold attends church with a friend of Tyler's, who says he went hunting with Sneed Friday night.
Police reports show the 18-year-old hadn't been drinking. His friend believes he might have fallen asleep at the wheel.
"They were con hunting, I believe, con hunting is what they do," says Harrold.
Harrold attends church with Sneed's grandparents and many other relatives. She says the community in Dayton is in mourning.
"We're just praying for all of them, you know, that's all we can do. Words can't, we don't know what to say to them," says Harrold.
Tyler's uncle tells Eyewitness News there was no better helper. In fact, he started volunteering at the Dayton Fire Department several years ago.
His goal was to become a firefighter. He was just one class away from completing his training.
He was also very involved in his church youth group.