Death of mother of 5 sparks change on Ochs Highway

Rachel Tucker in a family picture with her five sons and dog, taken just a week before her death. (Image used with permission of James Bode, Rachel Tucker's father)

Construction on a Chattanooga road has one family wondering — what if?

August 26th is a day that loved ones of 42-year-old Rachel Tucker will remember forever. Police say Tucker, a single mother of five sons, lost control of her car on Ochs Highway and hit a semi truck, ultimately killing her. For her father, James Bode, the road serves as a reminder of his daughter's life. The nearly unavoidable road up and down Lookout Mountain brings back painful memories for the mourning family.

Shortly after Tucker's death, city leaders from both the Georgia and Tennessee side of Lookout Mountain got together with TDOT to think of solutions to a road with a history of accidents. Specifically around the turn that claimed Tucker's life.

According to Chattanooga Police, there have been nine crashes between the 500 and 600 blocks of Ochs Highway between January 1st , 2016 and October 16th, 2019. Three people have been injured in that time, and one person killed.

"It’s one of our own, and everyone was concerned, I mean I was concerned. Facebook lit up like you wouldn’t believe," said Arch Willingham, Vice Mayor of Lookout Mountain, Georgia.

Right now, a repaving project on Ochs Highway is going on, but TDOT tells us that was scheduled before Tucker's fatal crash.

What came out of the meeting after the crash were changes that will be seen in the Spring — things such as added signage, changed middle lines, a slick-resistant coating on the road, and trimming brush back for increased visibility. We're told TDOT will also consider widening turns that are considered dangerous.

All of those changes coming after the loss of life, something James Bode has mixed feeling about.

"I’m really sad that it may have been my daughter's life that really pushed this thing forward to getting something done," said Bode.

Bode says he will always remember his daughter as tough. He says "raising five boys ages 12 to 18 is no easy task." Below, you can see a picture of Tucker and her five boys in a family picture taken just a week before her death.

Something else that is reflective of Tucker's personality is that she signed up to be an organ donor about a year before she passed. Bode teared up, telling us the family was told her organs could help save up to six lives.

"I would want people to remember... that that’s the kind of woman she was."

The Ochs Highway paving project will be completed by TDOT by November 15th or earlier.

Count on us to bring you updates if that timeline changes.

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