Driver dies at scene of roll-over accident

By Mark Boxley
of The Daily Times Staff

An 82-year-old Loudon man was killed Saturday night in a single-vehicle roll-over accident on Calderwood Highway near Murphy Road.

According to Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Ernest Marion, Elmer T. Summey, 82, Loudon, was driving a minivan southbound on Calderwood Highway (U.S. 129) when he lost control of the vehicle and left the roadway at about 7:11 p.m. The van traveled off the right side of the road for about 102 feet before it hit a utility pole on the side of the road. The driver-side of the van hit the pole and the window shattered upon impact -- sending a hail of broken glass onto the roadway -- and the driver's face hit the pole, killing him instantly, Marion said.

The force of the impact spun the van until it was facing the opposite direction and caused it to flip several times before it came to rest on its tires in a field next to the road approximately 78 feet from the pole.

Summey was not wearing a seat belt and was found in the passenger seat when authorities arrived at the scene. A physician living nearby -- an anesthesiologist at University of Tennessee Medical Center -- declared the Summey dead at the scene, Marion said.

The driver's wife, Virginia Summey, 69, was in the car with him and was taken by Rural/Metro Ambulance Service to Blount Memorial Hospital and then to University of Tennessee Medical Center. The extent of her injuries and her condition were not available Saturday.

Maryville motorist Ken Yopp and his wife Lisa were driving in the opposite direction before the accident and said the van was driving erratically -- enough to cause Ken Yopp, who was driving, to pull over to the side of the road while the van passed.

"He was off both sides of the road," Ken Yopp said.

His wife called 9-1-1 "immediately" to report the van to authorities, and moments later "we saw the dust," Lisa Yopp said.

They turned the car around and couldn't see much at first, but knew it was serious, Ken Yopp said.

"The dust was boiling and we knew what it was," he said.

No other vehicles were involved in the accident. Authorities are not sure if speed was a factor in the accident.

It doesn't appear Elmer Summey hit the brakes before hitting the pole, Marion said.

Saturday's accident was the 13th traffic fatality in Blount County for 2008 -- and the second in two weeks on Calderwood Highway. A motorcyclist was killed in a wreck on Sept. 6 on a section of Calderwood Highway known as the Dragon, an 11.1-mile section of the highway ending at the North Carolina border that has 318 curves.

There were 21 traffic fatalities in Blount County by this point in 2007.