$13,500 Offered in Case of Thrown Fan Motor That Injured Driver

Posted By Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge || Dec 9, 2010

McMinn County officials announced today that the reward pledge has grown to $13,500 for information in the case of the fan motor thrown from an overpass onto I-75. The thrown motor struck a bus carrying the Lee University a cappella group Voices of Lee, crashing through the windshield and causing personal injury to the bus driver. The incident occurred on the night of November 28.

Voices of Lee leader Danny Murray says that just a one-second difference in timing could have been catastrophic for the travelers. Instead of a frightening event resulting in injuries, the incident could have been fatal. If the heavy metal motor had fallen differently, it could have killed the bus driver and caused him to lose control, resulting in an even more tragic bus accident.

The fan motor crashed through the driver's side of the bus's windshield, bringing the entire side of the windshield with it to land at a passenger's feet. Broken glass was scattered for up to 25 feet inside the bus.

The bus driver suffered personal injuries in the form of cuts but, luckily, no other injuries were reported.

This is not the first time a dangerous object has been thrown from an overpass in McMinn County. Just a couple of weeks before the fan motor incident, a mailbox was thrown off an overpass and hit a truck driver. According to McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy and Chief Deputy Matt Blair, a cemetery grave market thrown from an overpass several years ago struck and maimed a woman in a car.

Community Responds to Newspaper's Call for Information and Reward

On Monday, the Cleveland Daily Banner launched an effort to find the person or people responsible for maliciously throwing the fan motor that injured the driver.

The response has been strong. Athens Federal Community Bank, the Tenth Judicial District Drug Task Force, Lee University, Mayor Tom Rowland, four McMinn County legislators and several local businesses have joined in the effort to raise money for the reward. WBIR TV in Knoxville and the Daily Post Athenian have also contacted the Sheriff's Office for information.

"The fund has rapidly escalated in growth and has crossed county lines in hopes of finding who was responsible," said Stephen Crass, editor and publisher of the Cleveland Daily Banner.

Sheriff's Office officials say that the reward offer has resulted in leads, although none has yet panned out. "We have had a number of calls and thought we had a good lead. The reward has sparked plenty of interest," said Blair.

Guy told the Banner that the case is a "top priority." Even administrative staff from the Sheriff's Office have been patrolling overpasses in hopes of preventing further incidents or serious personal injury. Agents from the Tenth Judicial District Drug Task Force have joined in the patrols, as well.

Anyone with information about the fan motor attack, the mailbox attack, or anyone dropping objects from overpasses is urged to contact the McMinn County Sheriff's Office at 745-5620.

Source: Cleveland Daily Banner, "Bus attack reward fund grows to $13,500; is drawing interest," Greg Kaylor, December 9, 2010

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