BY KEN LITTLE
Yvonne and Calvin Cooter have long held reunions of their respective North Greene High School classes at their farm on Horton Highway in the Woodlawn community.
They were planning to host the 35th reunion this weekend of the North Greene Class of 1977, of which Yvonne Poe Cooter is a member.
But a very serious accident last Sunday has resulted in the reunion's being postponed indefinitely.
Yvonne Cooter said this morning she and her husband, who remains hospitalized in the intensive care unit of Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, are slowly recovering from the traumatic event.
The couple was on a tractor pulling a Bush Hog about 5 p.m. Sunday on Horton Highway when it was struck from behind by a pickup truck, according to a report by Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Paul Kilday.
Yvonne Cooter was driving the tractor when it was struck by a 1988 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Cory Dale Coulston, 35, of 520 Horton Hwy.
NEVER SAW TRUCK
Cooter said she never saw the truck coming.
She and her husband were almost to their driveway after clearing a field where the class reunion was going to be held. Calvin Cooter was riding on the Bush Hog.
"All I know is that me and my husband were coming up the road real slow, and I was almost to the driveway and [Calvin] said, 'Do you want to take the Bush Hog off?'" Cooter said.
Then they were struck by the truck.
Cooter said she was told later that her husband was thrown from the Bush Hog into the windshield of the pickup truck and landed in the road.
"I didn't ever hear it, I didn't even see it. It's just one of those things we've done thousands of times, go down the road," Cooter said.
Calvin Cooter suffered the most serious injuries.
He was flown by Wings Air Rescue to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, where he remained this morning in the hospital's intensive care unit, Yvonne Cooter said.
A hospital spokesman said this morning that Calvin Cooter is in critical condition.
"He is still improving. They will probably take him off the ventilator [soon]," Yvonne Cooter said.
'BRUISED PRETTY BAD'
Calvin Cooter remains heavily medicated and has not been able to communicate with his wife.
Yvonne Cooter, who was treated Sunday night at Laughlin Memorial Hospital and later released, remains "bruised pretty bad" and has only been able to visit her husband once.
Although her injuries make it difficult to get around, she said she is planning to go to the hospital today. Cooter is grateful that her husband is gradually recovering.
"My daughter and son both went to see him, and they said his color's coming back," she said.
The couple will be on the mend for weeks to come.
But Yvonne Cooter hasn't forgotten about the reunion. She said it will be held later this year or in the spring.
She is also thankful for the outpouring of concern from her close-knit high school classmates, and for the help of neighbors.
"They all called and checked on me," she said. "Everybody in the community has come to see me. One [neighbor] brought groceries."
Calvin Cooter is a 1976 North Greene High School graduate. Many of his classmates were expected to attend the reunion.
Instead, they are praying for his recovery.
Cooter said she is looking forward to seeing her husband today.
"He's lucky to be alive," she said.
Coulston was charged with driving on a revoked license, according to the report. He suffered minor injuries and was treated at Laughlin Memorial Hospital.
Coulston's driver license has been revoked since 2002, the report said. His first appearance in General Sessions Court was on Monday. His preliminary hearing date is Dec. 19.
The crash remains under investigation by the THP.