|I-40 wreck in construction zone sends 1 to hospital|
|Thursday, October 18, 2012|
By JENNIFER HORTON
Charges are pending in a late Wednesday afternoon accident that occurred on Interstate 40 in the construction zone and which injured the driver of one of the two vehicles involved.
The accident occurred about 5:19 p.m.Lebanon Police Officer Robert Bates said the accident occurred when a 2004 Lexus ES 330, driven by Hani A. Khalil of Nashville and who owns a business in Lebanon, struck the rear of a 2009 Toyota Camry, driven by Rachel Wright of Knoxville near mile marker 229 in the westbound lane.
Bates said the Toyota had stopped for traffic due to construction, a widening project now under way between Highway 109 and Mt. Juliet Road, when the Lexus struck it in the rear.
“After it hit, (the Lexus) went into the median and into a 7-foot diameter storm drain under construction by Lane Construction (Company),” the officer said, and removed the lid of the storm drain that weighs 2,500 pounds.
“Even after the impact, it still had enough momentum to do that,” Bates noted.
Khalil was transported by Wilson County Emergency Management Agency ambulance to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. He sustained facial injuries as a result of the airbag deploying and injuries to his midsection from his seat belt. Bates said Khalil was in stable condition in the emergency room when he saw him on Wednesday night.
Wright and a passenger in her vehicle, Melissa Martin of Piedmont, S.C., were shaken up but did not sustain any injuries.
The accident caused a traffic back-up in the westbound lane from about the 229.5 mile marker to the 238 mile marker. “It caused quite a traffic problem,” Bates said, adding because of construction, the shoulders are narrower alongside the outside lane making it difficult, if not impossible in some spots, to pull over.
Although most vehicles were able to pull over to allow Lebanon Police, WEMA and Lebanon Fire Department to get to the scene, the sheer volume of traffic and lack of space made the response a little slower than preferred, but Bates said it was understandable given the conditions.
Bates, a motorcycle officer, said he was able to weave in and out of traffic easier than patrol cars and emergency vehicles.
He noted that the accident remains under investigation, but initial findings indicate that speed was a factor “by the sheer force involved. There was a lot of force there.”