Knox County TN June 30 2017 State officials have approved erection of a sign along Oak Ridge Highway honoring Knox County Schools Security Officer Keith Dunaway, who was killed in 2015 in a drunken driving crash.
Dunaway’s mother, Tina Thomas, will speak during the 6:30 p.m. Saturday ceremony along Oak Ridge Highway, according to Katie Reed, victim services specialist with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Reed said she also will speak during the memorial.
The unveiling of the green, 6-foot-long memorial sign will occur one day before what would have been Dunaway’s 31st birthday.
Reed said the sign will read, “Impaired Driving Cost Lives. In Memory of Officer Keith Dunaway.”
Reed said the ceremony will be at the 1.9-mile marker of Oak Ridge Highway, near where the head-on crash occurred, close to the intersection with West Emory Road.
Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesman Mark Nagi said the 1.9-mile marker is one-tenth of a mile west of the intersection with West Emory Road.
He said the location is almost directly across the street from Knoxville Leaf and Lawn, 8620 Oak Ridge Highway.
Dunaway graduated in 2013 with a class of 46 other school security officers after undergoing training in drug recognition, verbal conflict management, firearms, crime scene preservation, defensive tactics and legal issues. He was assigned to Northshore Elementary School.
Shortly before 11 p.m. on Aug. 7, 2015, Dunaway and the couple’s 3-year-old daughter Taylor were passengers in a 2011 Chevrolet sedan driven by the officer’s wife Lori Dunaway.
As the family traveled west along Oak Ridge Highway near West Emory Road, Lori Dunaway noted a vehicle coming at them in their lane. A 2000 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck crossed the center line, authorities said, and struck the Dunaway family’s vehicle head-on.
The impact killed Keith Dunaway and severely injured Lori Dunaway. She was in a hospital to recover from several broken bones for two weeks. Taylor also sustained injuries.
David Eugene Baird, 31 at the time, was driving the eastbound Tacoma. Authorities said he was impaired.
Baird was in a hospital for several weeks with injuries from the crash. Upon his release, he was charged with vehicular homicide, drunken driving, reckless endangerment, vehicular assault and aggravated assault.
On June 9, Baird pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. He was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. State records show Baird is housed at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex and will be will be eligible for parole on Oct. 6, 2019.
Reed said Dunaway’s relatives presented state transportation officials with the law enforcement crash report that detailed how the officer died and the sentencing report from Knox County Criminal Court when Baird pleaded guilty. Those documents are part of the application to have TDOT erect a memorial sign. The crash must have occurred on a state-controlled highway to qualify for a memorial sign.
Knoxville News Sentinel