A 15-year-old freshman at Hixson High School was killed when he was thrown from a pickup that spun out of control as it rounded a curve on Adams Road and wrapped around a tree Monday morning.
Michael Wolfe died at the scene.
Authorities said his 17-year-old sister and a male 17-year-old were also thrown from the vehicle. Wolfe's sister was listed in critical condition at a local hospital. The 17-year-old, who was expected to be kept overnight for observation, is expected to speak to police investigators today. Police identified him as the driver.
Hamilton County Schools were closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Jay Simpson routinely travels down Adams Road. His business, Graphics Solutions Inc., is located at 4793 address. The crash happened in the 4900 block.
He and his business partner were among a handful of people who saw the overturned Nissan pickup, bark missing from the tree and teenagers scattered about the property.
Wolfe, who was about 50 to 60 feet away from where the truck came to a rest, never moved.
"His eyes were rolled back. He was bleeding out of his nose and his ears and his mouth. I could still see mist coming out of his mouth. It was cold. He was breathing shallowly," Simpson said.
Simpson took off his jacket and placed it over Wolfe's body for a little warmth in his last moments.
By the time firefighters arrived, Simpson said Wolfe didn't have a pulse.
"I guess he was in the process of passing away," he said.
Others nearby comforted the other teens. The driver attempted to get up and was told to stay put.
Wolfe's sister had someone stroking her hair and holding her hand. Someone called her mother.
Chattanooga police traffic Sgt. David Gibb said none of the teens were wearing seat belts.
"We don't know the cause [of the crash] but we know speed was a factor," he said.
The truck was traveling east when it swerved. Police said the driver over corrected and lost control before crossing the other lane and going airborne. The truck smashed into the tree and wrapped around it before landing on the driver's side of the truck.
Wolfe's death marks the first traffic fatality of the year for Chattanooga.
"The thing that went through my mind was how senseless it was and how unnecessary it was," Simpson said. "You don't go thinking you're going to get up and go down Adams Road, like I do every day, and have that issue."
Contact staff writer Beth Burger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.