Sullivan County

Roof blown off greenhouse causes accident

PINEY FLATS, Tenn. - UPDATE, JULY 19: The ten-year-old girl in the vehicle died as a result of her injuries. Click here to read more.


Police say strong winds and heavy rain were to blame for an accident on Highway 11E Thursday afternoon.

Wood chunks and pieces of a roof covered the road causing traffic to come to a standstill. "We've had some bad storms here but never anything like this," says Colby Torbett.

Torbett's family owns the F.J. Torbett Plant Farm where parts of the roof were torn off one of the greenhouses. "It completely cleared the four other buildings. It had to fly over before it ever came down so it had to be up in the air pretty high," adds Torbett.

Pieces of the roof and wood chunks filled the road on 11E, when it hit a car and causing serious damage. "My first thought was the car that was hit, so that was my concern. The buildings can be replaced. I don't care about that," says Torbett.

There was only one car hit by all the debris that fell in the road.

Johnson City Police Officer Andy Hodges tells us the storms that swept through this area were very powerful. "It was a very hard storm. High winds, high rain. Visibility was very, very minimum at that time," adds Hodges.

Torbett tells us his father was there when it all happened and says it sounded like a loud roar when the roof was torn off. "He estimated the winds maybe 80 miles an hour, maybe more," says Torbett.

Torbett says his heart goes out to the two passengers inside the car, and he hopes the storms spare his family's business the next time.

The two passengers inside the car were taken to the Johnson City Medical Center with serious injuries.

We also learned the Johnson City Police called in assistance from Bluff City to help with traffic. Highway 11 E was completely closed down for a short period of time but was later reopened.

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