published Friday, March 1st, 2013

Bledsoe County Middle School principal killed when car slams into Knoxville restaurant

  • photo
    A Chrysler sedan is towed from in the Wild Birds Unlimited store after its driver lost control and the car fatally struck a customer in the adjunct Tomato Head restaurant Thursday at The Gallery in West Knoxville. Police say a woman in the Tomato Head restaurant was pronounced dead at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, where she was taken after the 2:30 p.m. accident. The male driver of the Chrysler also was taken to same hospital with what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries.
    Photo by The Knoxville News Sentinel /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Bledsoe County Middle School principal and longtime educator Deborah Thompson was killed Thursday when a car plowed into a Knoxville restaurant and struck her, according to police.

Bledsoe Schools Director Jennifer Terry said officials had delayed schools for two hours today to allow staff to prepare for a tough day in the wake of Thompson’s death, but when snow began falling early, classes were called off for the day.

Terry said Thompson, 59, had been with the system for 23 years, serving the last two as Bledsoe Middle School principal and previous years as a special education teacher and classroom teacher.

She said Thompson’s coworkers and friends want to do something to honor her but won’t announce any plans until they’ve talked with the family.

Knoxville Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk said Thompson was killed while standing in the checkout line at the Tomato Head restaurant on Kingston Pike when a 2013 Chrysler 300 smashed through the business and struck her about 2:30 p.m. Thursday. The car came to rest in an adjacent business, Wild Birds Unlimited, DeBusk said.

A blood sample was taken from driver, Dewayne Edward Kelley, 53, of Lennox View Way in Knoxville, while he was being treated for what police said were “non-life-threatening injuries,” DeBusk said.

Alcohol use is not suspected, police said.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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