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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