Heroic Neighbor Tried to Save Men's Lives

By: Kim Bedford
By: Kim Bedford

Knoxville (WVLT) – The Tennessee Highway Patrol tells WVLT three East Tennesseans most likely lost their lives to alcohol and speed on Chapman Highway Thursday night, but a nearby neighbor tried to save them.

THP says alcohol played a factor in the crash that killed 48-year-old Rex Owenby, 57-year-old David Headrick Junior and 46-year-old Scott Hawn of Seymour.

None were wearing seat belts and THP says Owenby had been drinking.

But one man ran to their rescue.

We warn you some of the details may be considered graphic.

"I just heard a loud crash. I came running outside and I mean, there was smoke everywhere," Jason Wilson says he ran to the scene that was practically in his front yard. "We checked vitals on the three people right when we got there. It took at least five seconds for us to get them."

Unfortunately there was no saving 48-year-old Rex Owenby, 57-year old David Headrick and 46-year old Scott Hawn.

"All of them were dead on the scene. It was horrifying. Really probably the craziest thing I've ever seen in my entire life," Wilson says.

It's not easy for Wilson to recall the graphic details, "In the Accord, when we went to check his vitals, we couldn't even see his legs. The whole front of the car was smashed in the steering wheel. And in the truck, the gentleman was leaned over the front and the other gentleman was laying on top of him."

Wilson says he did what he could to control the scene before crews arrived. "We grabbed shirts from my house and blankets and we covered them with as much stuff as we could."

"The vehicle was traveling in excess of the speed limit," says Trooper Howard Greenlee.

THP says Owenby was headed South on Chapman highway with Headrick in his pickup truck, with no headlights on, when he crossed into the oncoming lane and hit Hawn in his Honda Accord head-on.

"Wrong side of the road without your lights on. Common sense," says Wilson.

"In our opinion, alcohol was involved," says Trooper Greenlee. "There was a strong odor."

"That's certainly a multiplier," Gary Underwood, owner of Farmers Insurance Group near the accident scene, says the speeding needs to stop. "Everyday and every night it seems like traffic increases daily, and it seems like the speed increases daily."

"I watch people weaving in and out of traffic like they're race car drivers and it's absolutely ridiculous," Wilson says.

THP is waiting on the official alcohol tests to come back.

They say none of the men were wearing seatbelts, and they believe that would have saved the lives of Mr. Owenby and Mr. Headrick.


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