Two 18-wheeler truck drivers were injured when both vehicles were traveling south at mile marker 16 of Interstate 81 in Hamblen County.
According to a preliminary report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, around 5:27 a.m. Saturday, a 2016 Freightliner Tractor Trailer driven by Joseph Hopper, age 59, of Little Rock, Arkansas struck a 2011 Freightliner Tractor Trailer driven by Vano Galakhvaridze, age 47, of Brooklyn, New York in the rear. Both Hopper’s truck and the trailer of Galakhvaride’s truck caught fire and were destroyed.
One of the vehicles was hauling cars while the other vehicle was hauling toothpaste, according to Mark Nagi of the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Hopper was airlifted to the Johnson City Medical Center while Galakhvaridze was taken by ambulance to Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System. Conditions of the men were not known at press time. Both men were wearing their seat belts. The investigation is ongoing, according to the report.
Nagi said that the roadway was closed from the time of the wreck until after 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon. He termed cleanup at the site as “a large scale task.”