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Off-duty sheriff’s deputy critically injured in wreck

An off-duty Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy was critically injured in a crash on June 5 just yards away from his home in Jonesborough.
Sgt. David Chambers suffered massive head injuries when he pulled out in front of a pick-up truck and was T-boned on the passenger side of his Jeep Wrangler.
The crash took place on Highway 11E in front of Laurelwood Apartments where Chambers lives.
The impact of the crash sent Chambers’ vehicle hundreds of feet from the roadway before it came to rest in a field adjacent to Dillow-Taylor Funeral Home.
Chambers, who was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the wreck, was sent flying through his vehicle. He landed in the floorboard of the passenger side of the Jeep, with his head resting on his teenage son’s lap, according to authorities. It is believed Chambers’ head struck either a part of his own vehicle or possibly a part of the pick-up truck involved in the incident.
Chambers’ son, a student at David Crockett High School, suffered non-life-threatening injuries. He was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, police said.
Chambers was unresponsive at the scene, suffering a broken neck and massive head injuries, according to reports. He was transported to the Johnson City Medical Center where he remains in critical condition.
The driver of the other vehicle involved, Michael Bauer, of Limestone, suffered minor injuries. He was wearing a seat belt at the time of the wreck.
Jonesborough Police Chief Matt Hawkins was one of the first on the scene of the crash. He said Tennessee Highway Patrol officers were called in to work the wreck once local authorities realized Chambers was among those involved in it.
“We have an obvious conflict there. He has been a friend and partner with this police department for many years,” Hawkins explained. “We take every step to do a complete, thorough and unbiased investigation. There’s an emotional connection there, so we called the THP.”
It was the second time in less than a week that the THP was called in to help with a serious crash on Highway 11E.
On May 31, Jonesborough police called in the THP to assist with a crash that took place on the highway in front of Lowe’s Home Improvement store.
“It was a very busy day with calls for service,” Hawkins said. “With it being in the afternoon on the westbound lanes between two busy intersections, it dictated extra manpower to conduct a safe investigation.”
The driver of a motorcycle involved in the two-vehicle crash was transported to the hospital.
On June 4, another two-vehicle crash involving a motorcycle took place on Highway 11E, this time in front of Ingle’s grocery store.
“It was almost the exact same crash as the one up at Lowe’s,” Hawkins said. “It involved a serious injury to the motorcycle driver, too.”
Jonesborough police were able to work that wreck without needing additional manpower from the THP.
While Hawkins said it is not unusual to have that many crashes on 11E in a week’s time, it was the seriousness of all three of them that made the situation unique for the police department.
With two officers currently at police academy and another two recently suffering injuries — one in a fight with a suspect — the three crashes on the four-lane highway were taxing to the department.
“The operating capability of a small department can hinge on the duty status of one to two officers,” Hawkins said. “That is simply an inherent characteristic small agency chiefs across the country have dealt with for many years.”
Hawkins said the agency was fortunate that the crashes occurred during regular business hours when additional department staff, including himself, could also respond to the scenes.
“These things that happen during the middle of the night, that’s when it is tough,” he said. “But our supervisors are very good at making the calls on needed resources as the situation dictates.”