Chattanooga area records highest increase in vehicle fatalities in the state

The Tennessee Highway Patrol division in Chattanooga tweeted this photo, asking drivers to drive safely and #arrivealive. (Image: THP Chattanooga)

Jocelyn Garrett lost her fiance in a fatal crash almost two months ago. She is blown away at how many other families have gone through the same kind of pain.

According to a Tennessee Highway Patrol report Kevin Rentzell, Garrett's fiance, died when he crashed his truck into a tree on Highway 41 in Marion County between Chattanooga and Jasper. They were supposed to get married in October.

"My best friend, that was his birthday," Garrett said. "He's the reason why we met, so, that was supposed to be a memorial to him."

Rentzell is one of 68 fatal crashes in the Chattanooga region so far this year. This compares to 52 fatalities this time last year.

When Garrett heard those numbers, she only had one reaction.

"Woah," she said. "That's mind-blowing."

The state Department of Safety and Homeland Security says the Chattanooga district saw an increase of 16 deaths from car accidents this year compared to last; that’s more than any other region in the state.

Garrett says it’s still unclear how Rentzell crashed his truck the day he died, but she's learned to show some more love ever since.

"You never know. The person you love the most might be gone the next second, or the next day."

In total, the state has seen 589 vehicle fatalities since the year began. That's compared to 575 during this time last year. You can see a full break down throughout the state on the Department's website here.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is warning drivers about the upcoming summer traffic, especially with the eclipse coming up. The following statement comes from THP:

"The THP encourages everyone to get back to the Basic Driving Principles," says Lt. John Harmon.

  • Buckle Up, the most important thing you can do for yourself and your family!
  • Eyes on the road
  • Hands on Steering wheel
  • Slow Down
  • Don’t Drive Distracted!
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