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Posted: Friday, July 14, 2017 12:28 PM

Updated: Friday, July 14, 2017 12:28 PM

91-Year Old Dead In Accident Involving Knoxville Police Officer Thursday; Officer Seriously Injured

KNOXVILLE -According to the Knoxville Police Department, a 91-year-old driver has died after colliding with a KPD cruiser.

Dispatchers said the call came in at 12:41 p.m. Thursday as a wreck with injury on Henley Street at Western Avenue.

Officer Thomas Clinton was responding to a call for assistance when he was involved in a crash just north of the intersection of Henley Street and Summit Hill Drive.

According to KPD's preliminary investigation, the driver of a van, Dale Emerson Smelser of Jefferson City, was attempting to turn into LMU's Duncan School of Law parking lot and turned in front of officer Clinton's vehicle.

Smelser was transported to UT Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Officer Clinton was taken to UT Medical Center for his injuries.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office will be conducting the investigation into the crash while KPD is conducting the administrative investigation. Officer Clinton will remain on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the investigation as standard procedure.

Traffic was diverted in both directions at the scene of the crash.

KPD Chief David Rausch said the officer was rushing to assist another officer who was involved in a fight. The officer was running emergency traffic, with lights and sirens on, as he crossed the intersection in the northbound lanes of Broadway.

The patrol car crashed into a van that was turning left into the LMU Duncan School of Law parking lot. Chief Rausch believed the drivers may not have seen each other in time to avoid the accident.

The officer was transported to UT Medical Center with minor injuries. The other driver, who was not wearing a seatbelt, also went to UT with what the chief believed were serious to critical injuries.

Chief Rausch has requested the Knox County Sheriff's Office assist in the accident investigation.

While the accident reconstruction is underway, drivers can not go north on Broadway at the intersection. One southbound lane is open. Western Avenue and Summit Hill are both open.

Photo: WBIR Knoxville











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