BY KEN LITTLE
Black ice can form without warning on roads in communities close to the mountains in Greene and Washington counties.
That's what apparently happened about 5:40 a.m. Monday on Highway 107 near Jackson Bridge Road as Leonard C. Yates was driving to work, Washington County sheriff's Lt. Edwin Graybeal III said.
Yates, 52, was westbound in a Toyota Camry when it encountered icy road conditions near the intersection.
Yates, of Deacon Creek Road, Erwin, lost control of the car in a curve and went into the eastbound lane, hitting a tractor-trailer head-on.
Yates was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the tractor trailer, 61-year-old Roger A. Elhage, of 620 Wolf Lane, Bulls Gap, was not injured.
"A preliminary investigation shows it wasn't the fault of the truck driver," Graybeal said.
The wreck happened in Washington County, near the Greene County line. Patches of black ice developed on several roads Monday morning in Greene County, leading to a series of non-injury wrecks on Middle Creek Road, Greystone Road and West Allens Bridge Road.
Ice forming on the Washington County end of Highway 107, also known as Erwin Highway, is not uncommon "because of the mountains," Graybeal said.
He said that, despite above-freezing temperatures elsewhere in Washington County, different weather systems can form in the mountains and drift down into areas nearby, icing up roads.
Highway 107 was closed down for about five hours after the crash.
"A preliminary investigation shows the roadway conditions as the cause of the crash, but investigation is ongoing. The Washington County C.R.A.S.H. Team is conducting the investigation," Graybeal said.
Yates was operator of the popular Mountain View Bakery, on Erwin Highway in Chuckey.
Arrangements are incomplete.