A couple from Indiana were killed Friday morning on I-40 westbound in Fayette County after the driver missed an offramp, made a u-turn, and were hit by an oncoming 18-wheeler hauling vehicles for an auto dealership.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol said Michelle Lockhart, 41, of Osgood, Ind., and Dennis McClain, 45, of Versailes, Ind., died at the scene. The 44-year-old truck driver from Dayton, Ohio, was uninjured.
Highway Patrol said the grisly accident unfolded on westbound I-40 in the 9 a.m. hour when Ms. Lockhart, the driver of a 2005 Chevy Malibu, apparently missed Exit 35, stopped in the middle of the interstate, and then made a u-turn right into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer hauling cars.
The big rig slammed into the car, and dragged it down the interstate before going off the road into the median, and across the grass. The big rig came to rest just a few feet from oncoming eastbound traffic with the crumpled remains of the Malibu on its grill.
The wreck left traffic at a crawl on eastbound and westbound I-40 for almost four and a half hours, and almost caused some other wrecks because of rubbernecking.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol says the wreck was so bad the bodies of the driver and the passenger in the Malibu were unidentifiable. They released the identities of the victims shortly before 7 p.m., some 10 hours after the accident.
At some point during the investigation of the accident highway patrolmen could be seen testing a bag full of white powder on the back of the Chevy Malibu. The highway patrol would not say what the substance was, or if the accident was in any way drug related.
The blue Malibu had Indiana plates and a handicapped tag. The company that owns the big rig is out of Kansas City; the driver of the tractor trailer was not injured in the crash.