Crash claims life of 30-year-old father

Posted By | August 30, 2005 12:00 am

Jody Sliger
A sunny August Saturday turned tragic for one Sparta family after a head-on crash on Robert-Matthews Highway.
The E-911 call went out at approximately 1:40 p.m., Aug. 27, 2005. Michael Vallier Jr., 30, of Sparta, was pronounced dead upon arrival at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. His three sons, all passengers in the 2003 Dodge Neon, were airlifted to Erlanger for medical treatment.
According to Trooper David Slatton, Tennessee Highway Patrol, county officers had been dispatched to the area about a vehicle traveling recklessly in a southern direction down Jefferson Avenue, toward Sparta, just moments before the crash occurred.
Slatton said unidentified witnesses had followed the vehicle into White County on Robert-Matthews Highway toward Sparta. Slatton said the witnesses observed the subject turn around at Lucky B Manufacturing, then head back north, toward Cookeville.
The sole occupant of the 1996 Red Jeep Grand Cherokee was driver, Benjamin Crabtree, 19, Cookeville.
At the time of the crash, Slatton stated the Crabtree vehicle was traveling north on Roberts-Matthews Highway when the driver crossed the centerline and struck the Vallier car, which was traveling south on the highway.
Slatton said Vallier apparently attempted to avoid the Jeep. However, the Crabtree vehicle struck the Neon in the left front side. Crabtree then lost control of the vehicle. It rolled over twice and finally came to rest on its top.
Crabtree was transported to Erlanger by helicopter with serious injuries.
Vallier’s sons, Tyler, 10, Bryan, 7, and Austin, 6, are being treated at Erlanger for non-life threatening injuries.
According to the report, no drugs or alcohol were discovered at the scene. Blood tests were conducted.
Trooper Travis Ryan, with THP C.I.R.T. [critical incident response team], Sgt. R.C. Christian, THP, Sparta-White County Rescue Squad, North End Volunteer Fire Department, EMS, EMA and White County Sheriff Department assisted Slatton on the scene.
Slatton said the accident is under investigation. Charges are pending, depending on the outcome of testing and further investigation.

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