A preliminary investigation revealed that Ronnie Ross, 54, of Princeton was operating a 1998 Dodge Caravan eastbound on US 62. For an undetermined reason, the vehicle crossed into the westbound lane of travel and onto the emergency strip.
The vehicle exited the westbound shoulder of the roadway and entered a ditch, before becoming partially airborne. It traveled across a field, then down an earthen embankment and overturned onto its top. The vehicle came to rest on its left side, against an earthen embankment.
Ross and a passenger in the vehicle, Perry Dirden, 61, of Princeton were pronounced dead at the scene by the Caldwell County Coroner. Ross was wearing a seatbelt. Dirden was not wearing a seatbelt.
Two other passengers in the vehicle had to be treated for injuries:
Sherry Whitehair, 40, of Princeton was flown by Air Evac to the Tristar Skyline Medical Center in Nashville for treatment. She was not wearing a seatbelt.
Travis Whitehair, 17, of Princeton was transported via ambulance to the Caldwell Medical Center where he was treated and released. Whitehair was wearing a seatbelt.
All four occupants had to be extricated from the vehicle.
Trooper Ben Sawyer is continuing the investigation. Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department, Princeton Police Department, Princeton Fire Department, Caldwell County EMS and the Caldwell County coroner assisted at the scene.