Rogersville woman whose house was hit wants safer barrier between 11-W

Jeff Bobo • Dec 3, 2019 at 11:30 AM

ROGERSVILLE — A Rogersville woman whose home was one of two damaged during a high-speed pursuit crash on Highway 11-W last Thursday evening is hoping the Tennessee Department of Transportation takes steps to better protect residences near the highway.

This was the second time a vehicle traveling on Highway 11-W has crashed into Jennifer Derrick’s house at 101 Russell Drive.

About four years ago, an intoxicated driver plowed through the same chain link fence and though her carport, hitting the same end of the house.

All that separates the houses from 11-W traffic is the state’s chain link fence, which was no match for a speeding Toyota Camry that hit Derrick’s neighbor's house at 102 Russell Drive, a car parked in her driveway and then her house.

Driver facing felony charges

Police say the Camry was driven by Mitchell Landon Godsey, 40, 2112 Welch Road, Kingsport, who was arraigned Monday in Hawkins County Sessions Court on multiple charges, including felony evading arrest, felony reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, DUI, driving on a revoked license, reckless driving, driving left of center and theft under $1,000.

Godsey was ordered held in the Hawkins County Jail on $50,000 bond, and a Dec. 9 preliminary hearing was scheduled in Sessions Court.

The crash occurred around 7:30 p.m. Thursday after Godsey allegedly fled an attempted traffic stop. Rogersvile police responded to a BOLO (be on a lookout) for the Camry Godsey was driving, which had been reported stolen by his father.

Police said Godsey was driving erratically, swerving in and out of traffic, even before the attempted traffic stop. Godsey lost control rounding the curve just past the Route 66 intersection and crashed through the state fence into the residential neighborhood. 

“This has been a nightmare”

“I wish the state would come through and put up something besides this fence,” Derrick told the Times News on Monday. “This is such a residential area, and all they have up for protection is just that fence. They don't have any concrete posts. He came through the state fence and done all the damage, so I really wish they would do something to protect the homes a little better through here. This has been a nightmare.”

Derrick added, “It seems like every day the police are chasing someone down this highway, and it's not just that. Look at how many wrecks we've had. People flying through here and people getting killed because they are flying. Something needs to be done. This can't keep happening. If my little girl had been in the yard, I don't even want to think about it.”

Police told the Times News Godsey is suspected of being high on meth at the time of the crash. After the crash, Derrick observed syringes in her yard.

She also found a letter in her yard among the crash debris that was addressed to “Satan” and included unintelligible writing mixed with profanity and the number “666.”

“It sounds like an explosion”

Derrick had just gone into town right before the crash occurred, but her grandfather and cousin were home, and she got back right after it happened. She remembers the sound of a vehicle crashing into her house four years ago.

“The sound is something you will never forget,” Derrick said. “It sounds like an explosion. It shakes the whole house — the windows, the pictures. It shakes everything. It's an overwhelming feeling, and you know something bad is out that door.”

Derrick added, “He took out the state fence and hit my neighbor's house first. Then he came across the road, landed on top of my car, flipped over the top of our house and landed upside down in our back yard. It completely totaled my car. There was some damage to my newly painted truck.”

As her her house, the gutter is ripped down, the foundation and brick were cracked and the roof was extensively damaged. It took out a section of the fence in the back yard and ripped electrical wiring out of the house.

“It really done a number on the house, and had my car not been there, (Godsey's) car would have run plumb through the house,” Derrick said. “I'm sure it's going to be like $30,000 worth of damage.”

As for the neighbors, Derrick said the crash took out the porch post, knocked down their flagpole and hit an outside water spigot that caused a water line rupture in their basement and flooding.

A miracle no one else was hurt

There are a lot of children in the neighborhood including Derrick's cousin's daughter who lives at the house. Derrick said it's a miracle no one was outside in the path of destruction when the crash occurred.

“I was actually outside on my driveway 20 minutes before it happened, standing on my driveway,” Derrick said. “My little girl, her basketball goal is right in front of where he wrecked. If she would have been out there playing basketball, she would have been hit.”

She added, “We're just thankful that no one was hurt, even the driver. Yeah, look at what he done to us, but I wouldn't want somebody to die. Maybe this will help him. In jail maybe he can get his life straightened out.”

“He's very lucky to be alive”

“I told my friend I don't understand why things like this happen to good people,” Derrick said. “My grandfather has lived here since 1978, and he has been a good man all his life. My friend said, 'Nobody was injured, and he could have went down the highway and killed a family of six. This might have been God's way of stopping him.' ”

Derrick added, “I'm thankful that he didn't get killed. He's very lucky to be alive. He may not realize that. He may just think it's terrible to be in jail, but he's lucky to even be alive.”