published Saturday, December 10th, 2011

ATV crash victim dies

The driver of an all-terrain vehicle that struck the back of another four-wheeler while speeding on a state highway in McMinn County died Friday afternoon, officials said.

Zachery Shultz, 22, died from injuries he sustained in the crash, while his passenger, 20-year-old Melora Buckner, is in critical condition at Erlanger hospital, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol spokeswoman Dalya Qualls.

Officials first had declared Shultz dead shortly after the accident at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, but later changed that to say he was still in Erlanger’s intensive care unit in critical condition.

During that time, hundreds of local residents signed on a Facebook page called Prayers for Zach Shultz to show support for the family of the young man, who was an emergency medical technician volunteer with the McMinn County Rescue Squad, officials said.

“Praying for family and friends. I will be forever grateful to him for helping save my daughter and grandson,” one Facebook post read.

Just after dark Thursday on state Highway 205 in McMinn County, Shultz was driving a 2003 Yamaha ATV with Buckner on the back, and 19-year-old Dylan Eichenberger was driving a Honda ATV with 19-year-old Chasity Grant on the back, Qualls said.

Under state law, it’s illegal to drive ATVs on any state highway.

Officials said both men were driving at high speed when Shultz rammed into the back of Eichenberger’s ATV. Both drivers and their passengers were flung from the vehicles. No one was wearing helmets, Qualls said.

Eichenberger had minor injuries, while Grant’s injuries were more serious, Qualls said.

Grant’s condition was unknown, because Erlanger officials said Friday she no longer was listed as a patient at the hospital. Highway patrol officials didn’t know her condition, either.

Qualls said it’s too early in the investigation to say if anyone might be charged in connection with the crash.

No alcohol was involved in the crash, an incident report shows.

Tennessee law requires ATV drivers and passengers to wear helmets on any street, road or highway.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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