After fiery crash and history of problems, residents demand ligh - WSMV Channel 4

After fiery crash and history of problems, residents demand light at intersection

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(WSMV) (WSMV)
DOVER, TN (WSMV) -

A city is thankful a fiery crash only left people with minor injuries.

It happened in Dover Tuesday morning, but city officials said the intersection has a history of problems.

"It's insane that it happened to me," said 16-year-old Caroline Howell of Dover, walking toward the scene of the crash. "It felt like a dream. I couldn't believe it was happening. I still can't believe it happened."

Howell started the morning like any other, driving her 12-year-old sister, Grace, to school. The girls were turning at the intersection of Highway 79 and The Trace when their car was in a collision.

"My truck caught on fire," Howell said. "I unbuckled her, and I unbuckled me, and I said, 'Grace, open your door!' I couldn't think. I couldn't think about what to do. I had to tell myself, 'don't panic, think.' We had to crawl out the back window."

Despite that fire, everyone got out alive, with Howell leaving with some second degree burns.

"People wonder who has the right-of-way," said resident Adam Cathey. "It's just a recipe for accidents."

Cathey pointed out, this is far from the first crash at the intersection. Those crashes include a pedestrian killed last year.

"Citizens are asking, 'why can't we get a light?'" he said. "It's been talked about for years. It just keeps happening. I've got two kids. No matter what a traffic light costs, my kids are priceless. If a light can save one life, it's worth it."

Cathey said most of the stretch of road is made up of longtime businesses, but traffic stepped up years ago with the arrivals of Exxon and McDonald's.

A rep for Dover Police said they've met with the Tennessee Department of Transportation before about placing a light at the intersection. The rep said after Tuesday morning's crash, they're planning to meet with them again.

A rep for TDOT said the area doesn't qualify for a signal, but they're about to start a $29,800 safety project at the end of the year for new striping and signage at the intersection. The rep said the city of Dover can place a light at the intersection, but the city would have to fund it itself.

Dover City Administrator Kim Wallace put the cost of the light at $500,000 and said they may discuss a joint effort with the county to fund it. She said they also hope to continue discussions with TDOT.

"I don't want to drive," Howell said. "It's scary to think this could happen to me. This just happened in my town to me. There needs to be a traffic light."

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