ELIZABETHTON – Colleagues in Carter County described a longtime constable injured in a Tenn. Highway 91 crash that took the life of his passenger as a hard-working, dedicated pubic servant.
Ross Potter, 81, Suess Road, Elizabethton, a Carter constable for 29 years, was seriously injured when his car crashed into a light pole around 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the highway's intersection with Blue Springs Road.
His passenger, Jeanne B. Leonard, 80, Crooke Street, Hampton, was killed in the wreck.
Other Carter County constables said Potter was their leader and their spokesman as
the commander of the Carter County Constables Association.
“He has been a real good constable,” said fellow Carter County Constable Bobby Trivette. “He was first elected in 1982 and he has served ever since.”
“I have known him since the 1980s and he has always been a dedicated and hardworking constable,” said Constable Landon Pritchard.
Pritchard said Potter has served as a leader for the constables ever since the Constable’s Association was created in 1991.
“He served as commander since it started,” Pritchard said. "During the past four years Ernest Ensor took over as commander, but when he got beat in 2010, Ross made the commander again. He is the commander now.”
According to a Tennessee Highway Patrol report, Potter was traveling south on Tenn. Highway 91 in a Ford sedan, and as he negotiated a curve, the sedan left the right side of the road and struck a mailbox.
It traveled some distance before re-entering the highway and crossed all lanes before crossing Blue Springs Road and striking a utility pole head on, the THP reported.
Potter was listed in serious condition Friday at Johnson City Medical Center.
Pritchard said he believed Thursday’s accident was caused by a medical problem. “He went off the side of the road 600 feet before hitting the pole,” Pritchard said.
Pritchard was able to have a short visit with Potter around 10 p.m. Thursday.
“I was able to talk to him,” Pritchard said. "He was conscious and alert.”
Pritchard said Potter’s injuries were extensive, including a broken hip, at least one broken leg — possibly both legs — and four or five broken ribs.