This three-car wreck in Wise at the intersection of Walnut Street and Norton-Wise Road jammed traffic for more than an hour. There were no serious injuries. One driver was charged. JENAY TATE PHOTO. Click Here
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Wrecks in Wise last week give Chief Tony Bates the opportunity to send oft-repeated words of advice, regardless of the route you travel.
“It’s short and sweet,” Bates said. “Please pay attention when you’re behind that wheel. Buckle up. Drive sober and distraction free. And be a defensive driver.”
Wise Police Department responds to several hundred accidents each year and 90 to 95 percent are because of driver inattention, he said.
Texting, even just talking on a cell phone, are distractions, he said. Drivers, especially but not exclusively young ones, don’t seem to grasp the difference a split second can make in the gravity of an outcome, he said.
Bates has seen that difference many times and witnessed it again just last week.
An accident at the intersection of U.S. 23 and Addington Street, known as Monkey Hill, left drivers with only minor injuries. “They were lucky,” Bates said. “Just one second’s difference . . . and one car would have hit in the driver’s door” and the outcome would have been sadly different.
Bates’ comments were prompted by a question about a Sept. 10 accident at the Walnut Street intersection with Wise-Norton Road that jammed traffic for more than an hour. Looking back at accident statistics, Bates said the rate of incidents there doesn’t appear substantially different from years past.
That stretch of road entering Wise is more accident-prone than some other places in town, he said, but statistics show accident frequency there is about on par with the main intersection with U.S. 23 at McDonald’s and at the Addington/Monkey Hill junction with U.S. 23.
So far this year, police have responded to six accidents in this vicinity, which includes the areas around Mike’s Coastal and junctions with Dogwood, Walnut and Awan streets. During the same period last year, he said, there had been nine accidents and five were reported during the same period in 2012.
At the McDonald’s intersection, he said, there have been 10 accidents so far this year, 11 during that same period in 2013 and 10 in 2012.
At the U.S. 23 junction with Addington, he said, there have been five accidents so far this year, six during that same period in 2013 and four in 2012.
As of Monday, Wise police had responded to 124 total accident reports this year. Last year, accidents overall totaled 215.
Three vehicles were involved in the Sept. 10 accident that resulted in minor injuries and one driver charged.
Wise police Sgt. Veldon Mullins said Keaton Trey Hager of Wise was stopped and preparing to make a left turn onto Walnut. Courtney Lynn Newberry of Clintwood was stopped behind him. According to Mullins, Richard Lester Kern of Wise hit Newberry’s vehicle in the rear, pushing it into Hager’s vehicle. Kern was charged with following too closely.
Mullins said one lane of traffic was blocked because two vehicles were not driveable. It took close to an hour to get the road opened back up and another hour to conclude the on-scene investigation, he said..
On Friday, Sept. 12, police were dispatched to an accident at the U.S, 23/Addington intersection. According to police, James Ewal Mullins of Big Stone Gap pulled his truck from Addington into the path of a vehicle traveling north on U.S. 23 toward Kentucky. Police said Mullins struck the vehicle of James Earl Breeding of Letcher County, Ky., knocking it 322 feet. Breeding suffered minor injuries. Mullins was charged with failing to stop and yield the right of way.
Officer Aaron Lawson worked the accident.