Gail Palmgren Jeep removal attempt planned for today

Gail Palmgren Jeep removal attempt planned for today

December 5th, 2011 by Beth Burger in News

Hamilton County Public Works employees secure the area around Gail Palmgren's vehicle Sunday. The employees readied a path up from the W Road to the site of Palmgren's vehicle on Sunday. Yates Wrecker Service will move the 2010 Jeep Rubicon down to the W Road on Monday or later in the week.

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.

An event data recorder shows that the first impact to Gail Palmgren's crimson Jeep Rubicon was a small boulder the vehicle hit before plunging over a precipice on East Brow Road seven months ago.

It also showed that 44-year-old Palmgren was not wearing her seat belt, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said Sunday as crews worked to clear trees and brush to create a path to bring the Jeep down to the W Road.

Traffic investigators plan to consult with national experts on the information stored in the data recorder mounted on the Jeep.

"This data shows everything from major bumps to the car, speed of the car, to the braking system to speed. All of those things at first blush are consistent with an accident," he said.

Hammond declined to release additional details about what was found on the recorder.

Workers with Doug Yates' heavy-duty wrecker company will begin removing the Jeep today unless rain prevents them. Crews were unable to move the Jeep on Sunday because they needed more cable to lift the vehicle from the crash site and transport it down to a flatbed truck on the W Road.

"We are going to string cable. They will lift it straight up for a zipline approach as you do with rappelling. Then control it from the top and slowly lower it from the side," Hammond said.

Photos released by the sheriff's office show the Jeep's rear was smashed into the front seats.

The Jeep went over two bluffs and traveled about 350 feet before coming to a rest on a steep, 82-degree slope about 300 feet from the W Road, said Capt. Bill Johnson with the sheriff's department.

Palmgren's scattered remains were found about 100 yards below the jeep. Her skeletal remains were collected Saturday and taken to the University of Tennessee's Anthropological Research Center for analysis.

Sunday marked the fourth day the W Road and part of East Brow Road were closed, although police said East Brow was reopened Sunday night. The W Road will remain closed until the debris and Jeep are removed.