published Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Brothers' go-kart deaths shake Altamont community

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    Nicholas Keener, 11, right, and his brother, Calvin, 4, were killed in a go-kart accident near their home Saturday near Altamont, Tenn.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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    Mark Richardson with Beersheba Springs Rescue Squad puts absorbent material on Northcutts Road on Monday. Brothers Nicholas and Calvin Keener were killed Saturday when their go-kart rolled into the road in Altamont, Tenn.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
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To help the family with expenses, donations can be made to:

Layne Funeral Home

32871 State Route 108

P.O. Box 40

Palmer, Tenn. 37365


ALTAMONT, Tenn. -- Mark Richardson was driving his two kids home from a basketball game when he saw blue lights flashing and a go-kart flipped on its side in the middle of the road.

A member of the Beersheba Springs Rescue Squad, he jumped out of his car to see if he could help. After seeing what had happened, he didn't think so.

His neighbor Wanda Keener was cradling her 4-year-old son, Calvin, in her arms. He was bloody and not moving. Keener's husband, Wesley, was lying on the road next to his 11-year-old son, Nicholas, who was trapped inside the go-kart.

"That's the worst I've ever seen," Richardson said Monday, his voice still carrying the horror of the sight.

Just minutes before on Saturday afternoon, Calvin and Nicholas had driven their go-kart down a short, grassy slope near the side of their home on Northcutts Cove Road, according to a Tennessee Highway Patrol report. As the go-kart reached the two-lane county road -- only a short way from their house -- and the boys started to drive across it, an Oldsmobile was coming up a small hill in their direction. Neither the boys nor the driver of the car, a 30-year-old woman, saw each other, the report shows.

The Keeners were standing outside their house and could see the car coming, said Joyce Myers, a neighbor who lives across the street. The parents began screaming, "Cut it! cut it!" trying to get the boys to turn the wheel before reaching the road, but the boys couldn't hear over the noise of the go-kart's engine, Myers said.

The car struck the right side of the go-kart, causing it to skid nearly 100 feet on its side, according to the report. Calvin was pronounced dead on the road, while Nicholas died on the way to Erlanger hospital.

The car's driver, Rebecca Hobbs, an Altamont resident, and two of her children, who were riding with her, were unhurt.

The wreck was ruled an accident, and no one has been charged, the report states.

But Altamont residents said the accident has traumatized the community, destroying two families and affecting children that went to school with the boys.

"It's been the worst thing that has ever happened around here," Myers said.

The Keeners, who were at a visitation for the boys on Monday afternoon and unavailable for comment, have lived in the community off Town Myers Road for several months, Myers said.

The boys had been given the go-kart just a few weeks ago, and they often were seen riding through the property and near a cemetery across the road, neighbors said.

After the accident, Richardson had to tell his 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter, who rode the bus with Nicholas, what had happened.

"This will change people's lives forever," he said.

Myers, who said she's a cousin of Hobbs', said the woman is distraught over the accident. One of her children went to school with Nicholas at North Elementary School, she said.

Hobbs couldn't be reached for comment.

School was out Monday for Presidents Day, but a sign in front of the elementary school read: "Thoughts and prayers for the Keener family."

Funeral services will be today at Layne Funeral Home in Palmer, Tenn., at 2 p.m. CST.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at or 423-757-6659.

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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