The loss Thursday of Greene County Highway Department employee John Cooper in an accident is deeply felt by his co-workers.

Cooper, 48, of Mohawk, was walking beside a highway department truck picking up tree limbs from the road and putting them into a towed wood chipper. He apparently lost his footing and fell under the driver’s side wheel of the truck. Cooper suffered fatal injuries in the accident just after 10:10 a.m. on Dude Lane, off Lonesone Pine Trail in Bulls Gap.

Cooper “had a lengthy career at the Greene County Highway Department,” road superintendant Kevin Swatsell said Friday.

“He will certainly be missed. His passing has left a void at the highway department that truly words can’t describe,” Swatsell said. “Please remember us in your thoughts and prayers.”

County Mayor Kevin Morrison said on Friday this week “has been very tough for the Greene County government team, but most especially our highway department.”

“This is the second accident in the same week. Another employee of the paving crew was injured seriously on Monday afternoon when the paving machine he was operating was struck by a roller, seriously crushing his foot,” Morrison said. “And then Thursday, we were more than shocked and extremely saddened to learn of the accident that took John’s life. John was a great employee and was 17 years loyal to the highway department.”

Work done by highway department employees is not fully appreciated, Morrison said.

“All of the men and women at the highway department enthusiastically do their best daily to maintain our roads and bridges. They have a monumental task that very few understand and is not appreciated enough,” he said. “They are called on to perform work under difficult weather conditions and tasks that are always dangerous, a reality we were shocked with yesterday.

“Aside from the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, there aren’t words to assuage the sadness and grief for John’s family, friends, and co-workers, but our sincerest thoughts and prayers are extended to them during this difficult time,” Morrison said.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol conducted a preliminary investigation into the incident.

Cooper was wearing a reflective vest, blue jeans and a T-shirt at the time of the accident, which remains under investigation by the THP.

No citations were issued.

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