UPDATE: Battlefield Primary School principal remembers teacher in fatal crash
Kimberly Payne was known for her million-dollar smile. School officials say she would quickly light up a classroom each morning with her gutsy laugh and big personality.
UPDATE: The woman killed in a crash on UTC's campus over the weekend has been identified as a local teacher.
Chattanooga police say a Jeep Wrangler with two people inside was going north on Campus Drive when the jeep broke through a barricade and went down several flights of stairs in a pedestrian area.
The jeep hit a large object and flipped onto its top. When police got to the scene, the driver 47-year-old Kimberly Payne, was dead.
The passenger, 52-year-old Ronnie Lee Montgomery, was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
Payne taught special needs students at Battlefield Primary School for several years.
"I would describe her as happy-go-lucky, loved the kids," Principal Geoffrey Rhodes says. "Every time I saw her, she had a smile on her face."
Kimberly Payne was known for her million-dollar smile. School officials say she would quickly light up a classroom each morning with her gutsy laugh and big personality, and the students loved her.
"Occasionally, a student might not do what they're supposed to do and she would, you know, correct them and she would always say 'you know I love you right', she would always say it and with a hand gesture, too. 'You know I love you, right', and they knew that," says principal Rhodes.
Payne helped kids with special needs learn how to read and write. Parents say she sent their kids home with special messages of love and support.
"She would go above and beyond too even outside of the school," principal Rhodes says. "My understanding is that she would develop relationships with kids and follow up with them at the other."
The mother of two always had a lesson.
"No matter what the circumstances are in life, to look at the bright side of things, to show love to those that are less fortunate, that's what she taught me," says principal Rhodes.
Grief counselors are on campus to help students and teachers cope with the loss.
"The students are our priority; Kim would want that to happen," principal Rhodes says. "That's what I'd like parents to know is that we are going to take care of her kids, and we're going to honor her memory by doing just that."
Funeral arrangements for Kimberly Payne have been made at Heritage Funeral Home in Fort Oglethorpe.
READ MORE | Funeral arrangements for Kimberly Payne
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
Chattanooga police are asking anyone with information to give them a call at 423-698-2525.
PREVIOUS UPDATE: A Battlefield Primary School teacher died in a vehicle crash that occurred on the UTC campus, late Friday night.
Chattanooga Police responded to a single vehicle crash located at 700 Vine Street around 11:35 p.m. Friday.
Officials say a Jeep Wrangler with two passengers was traveling north on Campus Drive. The vehicle broke through a barricade and traveled down several flights of stairs into a pedestrian area. The vehicle struck a large object in the pedestrian walk way and flipped onto its top. The vehicle came to rest on its top in the pedestrian area.
Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the scene including Hamilton County EMS. EMS advised the driver of the vehicle, Kimberley A. Payne, 47, has succumbed to her injuries on scene. The passenger of the vehicle was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries.
Chattanooga PD's Traffic Division are examining evidence and following up with the investigation. No pedestrians were hurt.
On Monday, the Catoosa County Public Schools released this statement on Kimberley Payne's death:
Catoosa County Public Schools employees are devastated by the death of a teacher in a tragic accident on Friday night. Kimberly Payne was hired at Battlefield Primary as a paraprofessional in 2003, and she became a special education teacher at the school in 2011. According to Battlefield Primary Principal Geoffrey Rhodes, Ms. Payne was a great teacher and employee. He said, “She was always smiling, and she had fun with students. It was not unusual to see her dancing with students in the morning in the car-rider line. Above all, she made sure her students knew that she loved them. She will be greatly missed at our school.”
The school system has placed additional counselors in the school to help students and employees process the loss.