Six-year-old Caleb Dugger was killed Sunday night in Butler when the car he was riding in struck a tree.
According to reports from Tennessee Department of Safety Public Information Officer Dalya J. Qualls, the driver of the vehicle, Daniel S. Bailey, was traveling east at a high rate of speed on State Highway 167 when he lost control of the vehicle. The 1987 Pontiac 600 ran off the left of the roadway and hit a tree broadside. The driver and the front seat passenger were ejected. Passengers Brandy M. Dugger, 25, and three-year-old Cobi Syndergaard, as well as Bailey, were all injured. Caleb Dugger was pronounced dead on arrival at Johnson City Medical Center.
Qualls reports that Trooper Robert Wills was performing a stationary radar on Highway 67. The vehicle was clocked at 71 mph in a 55 mph speed zone. The driver attempted to elude Trooper Wills by turning right on Highway 167, where he crashed less than a mile down the road. The official accident report says Wills had not initiated a pursuit prior to the crash.
Investigating officer Trooper Dexter Lunceford of the Fall Branch Tennessee Highway Patrol will be filing charges against Bailey, 21, of Kingsport, for two counts of reckless endangerment and vehicular homicide. Citations will be issued for two child restraint violations, speeding, proof of insurance and seatbelt violations.
Neither adult was wearing a seat belt. Although Syndergaard was using a safety belt and child restraint, the device was not being used properly. The child that was killed was using a safety belt but no child restraint. In the officers opinion, the proper safety restraints would have made a difference.
At press time on Tuesday afternoon, Brandy Dugger had been released from Johnson City Medical Center. Bailey was listed in fair condition and Syndergaard as satisfactory.