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UPDATE: Unicoi County teen one of three people killed in flood-related crashes across the region

Sue Legg • Feb 7, 2020 at 8:49 PM

UNICOI — A Unicoi County teenager was killed early Friday when his car overturned into flood-swollen Buffalo Creek along Unicoi Drive.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol reported William Joshua Cade, 19, was traveling east on Unicoi Drive near Sunny Lane just after midnight when his Toyota Camry veered off the right side of the roadway, struck a concrete bridge and overturned on its top in flood waters.

Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley told the Johnson City Press two deputies were attempting to reach the vehicle when the safety rope they were using broke. The two were swept downstream before being pulled from the water by a third officer. One of the deputies was treated at the scene for a cut to his hand suffered in the rescue attempt.

Unicoi Drive, which was menaced by high water from Buffalo Creek throughout the day on Thursday and overnight on Friday, was closed until around 4 a.m. as a wrecker worked to pull Cade’s vehicle back onto the roadway. Normally only a few feet wide, the creek swelled to as much as 100 feet wide in some places.

Unicoi County High School Band Boosters posted Cade’s photo on their Facebook page Friday morning in tribute to the former Blue Devils marching band member, who friends remembered as “a wonderful young man” with a “kind and gentle spirit.”

Cade’s death was one of three flood-related fatalities reported across the region on Thursday and Friday.

75-year-old Anita Bess was killed Thursday morning in Bluff City when her vehicle overturned into a creek along Flatwoods Road. Sullivan County authorities reported Bass was apparently attempting to turn around after encountering a downed tree in the roadway when her car missed a bridge and overturned into the creekbed.

Friday morning Virginia State Police were investigating a single-car crash near Abingdon that resulted in the death of a woman whose vehicle was found on its top in a creek along Rich Valley Road. The woman was pulled from the car just before noon but later died at a hospital.

Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Henlsey said flood-waters across the county had gone down and were continuing to recede Friday evening.

Highway 107 (81 South) between Erwin and Jonesborough remained closed due to a rock slide that happened during the heavy rain on Thursday. And a section of McInturff Springs Road near Unicoi County High School was reduced to one lane because of a dirt slide that took out a large embankment and a small section of asphalt.



UNICOI — A teenager died early Friday morning when his car struck a bridge on Unicoi Drive and overturned in Buffalo Creek, Sheriff Mike Hensley said in a Facebook post.

William Cade, 19, was traveling east on Unicoi Drive at Sunny Lane just after midnight when his Toyota Camry ran off the right side of the roadway and struck a concrete bridge and overturned, Tennessee Highway Patrol reported. The car landed on its top in the creek.

Hensley said deputies tried to get to the overturned vehicle but were swept down stream by the swift water after their safety rope broke. Deputies safely got out of the water with only minor injuries.

Severe weather caused flooding across the South, including throughout Northeast Tennessee, on Thursday. Cade’s death was one of at least two in Tennessee.

This is a developing story.

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