Victim's family praying for man accused of running down highway workers

By: Amber Miller Email
By: Amber Miller Email

BULLS GAP, Tenn. (WVLT) -- There are no charges yet against a Scott County man who Tennessee troopers say caused an accident on I-75 Monday that killed two highway workers.

Jeffery Brian Thompson II, 19, of Rogersville and Cheyenne Dakota Burke, 18, of Bulls Gap were killed instantly.

"I had to see the blood on the highway from my brother and Chey. And it's something you don't get out of your mind," Lauren Thompson told Volunteer TV.

Lauren and Jeffery Thompson were born 15 months apart. And Lauren adored her big brother.

She says she was aware how dangerous his job was, working on the side of the interstate. But, he wanted to work with their father.

And, he wanted to provide for his baby daughter, who was born three months ago.

"It was every week, when Dad and the boys would leave-- there was always that gut feeling that something could happen, but you never thought it would happen," Lauren said.

On Monday, she got that phone call. It had happened.

"For my dad, it was even harder. I don't know how he's going to get through it," Lauren continued. "He had to look at his son laying on the floor, and he couldn't do nothing."

Cheyenne Burke-- or Chey, as friends called him-- and Jeffery Thompson just graduated from Cherokee High School, in Bulls Gap, this past May.

School staff told us they were thrilled to hear about the boys' new job.

"Both of them had not had an easy road and we were very proud of them. They were great kids to be around," Cherokee Principal Patrick Fraley told WVLT.

Burke and Thompson were known as hard workers in their school hallways, and their principal says they are dearly remembered.

"I can picture a smile on both young men's faces," Fraley continued.

And as their community tries to heal the hurt of loss, Lauren Thompson says she's also thinking of James Hatfield-- the man accused of running down her brother and Chey.

"I pray for him. I pray he gets through it like we do. He needs the prayer. I can't imagine. If it's hard on us, what it's like for someone who took the lives of others is harder," Lauren said.

Troopers say Hatfield tells them he doesn't remember the crash.

They're unsure if he had a medical emergency or not. They will wait on toxicology results to determine what charges should be filed.

That could take 10 to 14 days.

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