Local residence totally consumed by flames

by | December 20, 2001 12:00 am

Dawn Bailey
Flames roared throughout a local residence on Wednesday leaving a total mass of destruction behind.
No one was inside the home at the time of the fire.
Authorities were dispatched to the scene of a two story structure fire at 11060 Monterey Highway at approximately 11:30 a.m.
Chief Lew Betterton of the Cherry Creek Fire Department said, “Chief Ed Kay of the Sparta Fire Department was the first one on the scene and said the home was totally engulfed in flames.”
The residence was owned by Bobby Cunningham and authorities said Dave Johnson was renting the home.
Eleven firefighters from Cherry Creek Fire Department and seven firemen from Sparta Fire Department were on the scene. They supervised the fire closely, and sprayed the nearby tall grass with water to ensure the fire did not spread.
Deputy Darren Gongaware of the White County Sheriff’s Department lent his assistance and authorities were on the scene until approximately 1:30 p.m.
Update on body found near Cumberland County line
Two vehicles collided during a rain storm Thursday night at approximately 11:30 p.m. Howard Black, one of the drivers, fled on foot and sent authorities on a search for several hours. Black’s body was discovered two days later, on Saturday, Dec. 15.
Black, 65, of Sparta, was traveling west on Crossville Highway in a 1991 Ford Taurus when he lost control of the vehicle. The Ford traveled into the eastbound lane and side swiped another vehicle. The other vehicle, a 1999 Buick Century, driven by Ladenia J. Sturgill, 40, of Fairfield Glade, was traveling east on Crossville Highway. Sturgill attempted to avoid the collision and proceeded to the side of the roadway but was unable to avoid the collision. White County EMS were on the scene.
Law enforcement personnel were investigating and found Black had spoken to Sturgill and asked her if she was okay. When she said she was fine, authorities said Black had apparently made an attempt to flee the scene with his vehicle but had lost the left front wheel. Black then fled on foot.
White County Sheriff’s Department, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department and volunteer firemen searched for Black for
several hours during treacherous rainy weather but were unsuccessful, despite their efforts. Trooper Mark Dial of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said alcohol was involved and mentioned Black was a habitual offender out of Indiana. “They did
their best to locate Mr. Black and
I feel it is a tragic event, my sympathy goes out to the family,” said Dial. “The best
thing to do regardless of the penalties you would have incurred, don’t leave the scene of an accident.”
Authorities mentioned Black had tried to stop several vehicles to flee the scene of the accident. He had also asked a local citizen for refuge from the White County Sheriff’s Department and was turned away. Black was not seen again.
Saturday, authorities found the body of Black approximately 600 yards away from the highway where the two vehicle accident had occurred several days earlier.
The
body was sent to Dr. Charles Harlen’s office in Nashville and according to Trooper Dial, the preliminary report said Black passed away due to exposure to the elements (hypothermia) and emphysema.
“It is against the law to leave the scene of an accident, especially where there is significant injury,” said Sheriff Guy Goff. “This is one of the worst, leaving the scene of an accident, incidents I have ever seen.”
Goff, Detective Chris Isom, Deputy Rudy Cruz and Deputy John Haley of the White County Sheriff’s Department were all on the scene, Saturday.
Guns and hunting supplies stolen
On Friday afternoon at approximately 3:10 p.m. Patrolman Roy Gooch and Detective Harold Blankenship of the Sparta Police Department were dispatched to a residence on Allen Drive in reference to a burglary that occurred.
According to the report, Kenneth Simmons mentioned they had found their door lock broken and the back door open when they
arrived home at approximately 3 p.m. Several guns and hunting equipment were stolen from the residence. No value was known at this time.
According to Sparta Police Chief Jeff Guth, if anyone has any information pertaining to this crime, please contact Detective Blankenship at 836-3734.
The investigation remains open.

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