A 59-year-old truck driver died after his semi-truck smashed into a guardrail on Interstate 75 early Monday.
The man, identified as Kenneth Mills, was the lone fatality in the crash that jammed roads for most of the morning and shut down parts of the interstate until the early afternoon.
The driver of a Chevrolet Equinox SUV suffered nonlife-threatening injuries after striking debris that landed in the road after the truck crashed. No injuries were reported by the driver of an RV that also struck debris in the road.
According to police, Mills was traveling southbound on the interstate when he almost ran head-first into the guardrail near exit 7, the Bonny Oaks Drive exit, around 5:51 a.m. After striking the guardrail, Mills' rig and hopper trailer jack-knifed and reportedly sent debris flying onto the interstate.
Police did not say why Mills crashed. Information about Mills, including his hometown and employer, was not available Monday. The wreck was still under investigation Monday evening.
I-75 southbound was closed until 8:30 a.m., when two lanes reopened. All lanes were reopened at 12:30 p.m., but the wreck wasn't cleared until mid-afternoon.
According to Tennessee Department of Transportation traffic data, around 70,000 motorists pass through the stretch of road on a daily basis.
The fatal collision occurred only eight miles from the site where Kentucky truck driver Ben Brewer crashed his tractor-trailer into stopped traffic on the northbound side of I-75, killing six people on June 25.
And while investigators did not issue any information about the nature of the wreck that claimed Mills' life, local motorists were critical of big trucks.
"Tractor-trailers go way too fast on I-75," said one reader, commenting on the Times Free Press' Facebook story.
"This truck traffic/truck driver behavior is out of control," said another.
According to TDOT data, there were 961 traffic fatalities in Tennessee last year, and 103 — just over 10 percent — involved a large truck, though the data doesn't say whether a large truck was at fault in the incidents.
There were 42 fatal wrecks in Hamilton County in 2014.
Chattanooga police said additional information about Monday morning's crash will be released when it's available.
Contact staff writer Alex Green at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6480.