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News Mountain accident kills man, injures woman

On Saturday night, a Swain County man died after wrecking his motorcycle in Jackson County.

At approximately 6:40 p.m., 43-year-old Eric Stephen Smith reportedly collided with a guard rail after traveling on the Jackson County side of US 441 North, coming from Macon County.

The wreck occurred eight-tenths of a mile from the county line, according to the accident report from Trooper Rico Stephens of the Jackson County Highway Patrol. Riding as Eric’s passenger was his wife, 41-year-old Kelli Kitchin Smith.

The couple was ejected upon colliding with the guardrail, after traveling downhill in excess of 50 miles per hour. The motorcycle reportedly slid 121 feet along the northbound shoulder of the road.

Eric was pronounced dead at the scene by WestCare EMS and his wife was taken to University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

As of Wednesday, Kelli was discharged from the center and had sustained a broken ankle, knee, vertebra and ribs as well as a separated shoulder.

According to Kelli’s daughter Samantha Smith, 19, the only thing that saved her mother was landing in a pile of sawdust after being thrown 30 feet into the air after the wreck. She added that her mother had surgery on her ankle but is trying to avoid back surgery.

“She got up yesterday for the first time and she is doing okay,” said Samantha. “We’ll be okay. We have a lot of support. We’re just happy to be headed back over to our side of the mountain.”


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