UPDATED: Teen seriously injured in motorcycle crash upgraded to stable condition
An Ancil Leach Hollow teenager, who was seriously injured Friday afternoon when a motorcycle he was driving collided with a car in Rockholds, was listed in stable condition Tuesday afternoon in the University of Tennessee Medical Center.
Timothy Lawson, 17, was not wearing a helmet. Whitley County EMS treated him at the scene and then transported to an emergency-landing zone that Rockholds Volunteer Fire Department set up at Whitley North Elementary School.
An Air Evac Lifeteam emergency medical helicopter landed outside the school and flew the teenager to Knoxville for treatment.
The accident happened about 4:40 p.m. Friday when Tracy Byrd, 42, of Tye's Ferry Road, was driving a white 2011 Nissan Sentra south along Ky. 26 and was preparing to turn left onto Short Street near the railroad tracks, said Whitley County Sheriff's Sgt. Ken Shepherd.
A dirt bike that the teen was driving was headed north along Ky. 26 and T-boned the car near the front passenger side door.
The teen suffered a knee injury and a bad head injury, which Shepherd said might have been at least partially avoided if he had been wearing a helmet.
Tim Lay, who driving home to his Cripple Creek Road residence when the accident happened right in front of him, said at one point he was afraid that he might have run over the teenager, who landed near his vehicle.
"I was in behind her as she was getting ready to turn," Lay said. "About the time she started to turn, I saw this young boy coming across the tracks. He had his wheel up in the air and came across the tracks and hit her in the side of the car, then he flew up over the car and hit the tire on my car.
"I thought I had run over the kid. When I looked down and saw his body laying next to my car, I said, 'Oh my God, I have run over him.'"
Lay quickly realized that he hadn't run over the teenager and got out to see if he could help him.
"It's a shame. It's a mess," Lay said. "The lady didn't have time to react. The kid came across there so quick she just did not have time to react. I don't see how she could have kept from hitting him.
"He came across the tracks about 30 mph, which is too fast to be coming through this intersection. He just hit her head on."
Lay admits that the whole situation was scary, especially because he has a child about the boy's age.
"It made me a nervous wreck. I thought I ran over that little kid. Not only that, I thought he was dead there for a minute because he wasn't moving," Lay said.
"I'd just hate for it to be my kid in that situation. Mine wouldn't be out here riding these bikes on these main streets."
He said that unfortunately, people driving too fast in the area is nothing uncommon whether it is motorcycles or four-wheelers.
"Every day you see them flying through here," Lay said. "I just hope the boy is alright."
Rockholds Fire Chief Charles Walker said accidents at that intersection aren't uncommon.
He said that at least once a month, someone misses the turn and goes down the railroad tracks.
Walker said that people traveling south on the road don't realize that the road veers to the right as it crosses the railroad tracks.
"Generally they are halfway over the center line when they cross over," he said. "It is very, very bad and it isn't lighted where people can actually see what is going on. At night, it is really, really dangerous."
Walker said that people slowing down and being more cautious would help the situation, but he said a street light at the intersection would also help people at night see how the road veers when they cross the railroad tracks.
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