UPDATED: Knoxville Police Identify Firefighter Killed in I-40 Crash

By: Brian Gregory Email
By: Brian Gregory Email

Knoxville Police have identified the forest firefighter killed on I-40 in West Knoxville yesterday.

KPD says 19 year old Marcus C Harris III, died instantly Thursday just before 5:30 when the SUV he was driving flipped multiple times between the West Hills and Papermill exits.

Harris was from Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

A second firefighter suffered minor injuries and was treated at UT Medical Center and released.

A Knoxville Fire Department spokesperson says Harris and a caravan of other firefighters were heading from training in Jackson, Mississippi to Virginia for certification.

KPD says both Harris and the other man were wearing seatbelts, but speed was a factor in the crash.

UPDATED 11:36 AM 5/25/07

Knoxville (WVLT) - A young firefighter is dead and another is recovering at UT Medical Center after their SUV rolled over on I-40 Thursday. At one point, blocking all lanes of traffic east bound, which had traffic backed up for miles for several hours. The accident even caused some problems westbound as motorist slowed down to see the accident.

Those from the Knoxville Fire Department are reaching out to several firefighters traveling along with the men involved in the deadly crash to give them a place to stay, food to eat, and the emotional support their friends will now need.

Knoxville firefighters see these images first as they arrive along I-40 east bound,

"We didn't know they were firefighters until we got on the scene," firefighter Captain Darrell Whitaker said.

A rescue operation quickly becoming personal as the responders learn the two men trapped in the vehicle are young wild land firefighters just completing their training.

"It really hurts anytime it's a firefighter, I don't care what part of the country they are from," Whitaker said. "There's a brotherhood always hear about that it defiantly exists."

Authorities say the two men involved where leading a caravan of three cars full of young firefighters coming from Jackson, Mississippi and en route to Virginia. Those traveling behind didn't waste anytime trying to save their friends. This as first responders arrive on the scene facing their own problems.

"Obviously with busy interstate it's a big threat to personnel on the scene we wanted to make sure we kept the traffic off us," Whitaker said.

Now as KPD and THP investigators try to determine what caused the accident, officials want to remind you to be careful this holiday weekend.

"Keep your mind on your driving, not on a cell phone, not the radio, really important there are lots of distractions on the roads this weekend," Whitaker said.

The names of the firefighters involved aren't being released until the families have been notified. No word as to whether the men were wearing their seat belts.


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  • by Steven S. Location: Aekansas on Jun 15, 2007 at 01:01 PM
    Who ever you are that was at the scene please contact me Stevenbshelby@yahoo.com I was with the group but I was in front so I had to turn around and come back to the accident.
  • by Travis F. Deshazier Location: P. B. Arkansas on Jun 15, 2007 at 12:50 PM
    If anyone has any information about this accident I would welcome your comments, this was my stepson and he will be surely missed.
  • by nick Location: florida on May 26, 2007 at 08:54 PM
    what do you mean you took his pulse and then left. was he still in the vehicle? could he be helped
  • by Anonymous on May 25, 2007 at 03:32 PM
    i was fifteen feet behind the vehicle when what appeared to be something in the right front broke. the right of the car droped and the vehicle right when the driver corrected the vehicle launched of the front end and launched 10 feet in the air then rolled 6 times hitting the wall twice but the statements made by some were wrong when the wreck was over the passanger was not traped he got out when the vehicle stoped. and the driver still was alert and moving when i left the scene 20 min after the crash i took his pulse and talked to him and he seemed fine
  • by J.B. Location: Arkansas on May 25, 2007 at 03:30 PM
    Thanks for your prayer. Marcus was a very dear friend of mine and he will truly be missed.
  • by laura Location: w. knoxville on May 25, 2007 at 12:41 PM
    I assume I was not too far behind when this happened. There was only one TN Hwy. Patrol there when I drove by yesterday. It was very scarey to have seen this vehicle in the shape that it was in. My prayers are with the families of the two

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