LCSO investigates Highway 444 death

Vehicles pass by a memorial set up on Highway 444.

Loudon County Sheriff’s Office is seeking answers after a young man died Aug. 25 when a vehicle hit him on Highway 444.

Jennifer White, Loudon County E-911 director, said a call came in at 3:16 a.m. that a person was lying in the roadway. A second call was received that a vehicle had hit him.

Loudon County Sheriff’s Office, Tellico Village Volunteer Fire Department, Priority Ambulance and Tennessee Highway Patrol responded.

“The vehicle that hit him was still on scene,” LCSO Sgt. Inv. Jerramie Bowen wrote in a report. “(Tennessee Highway Patrol) was called to work the wreck. The driver of the vehicle told THP that a vehicle had pulled over and there were people outside the vehicle waving their arms and he was watching them. He then hit something in the road.”

EMS confirmed Joseph Medina, 20, of Tellico Plains was dead at the scene.

“The person that hit him is not facing criminal charges,” LCSO Sgt. Matt Fagiana said. “He did not see him in the roadway, and he was actually trying to figure out what was going on. He wasn’t speeding, nothing like that. He had no impairment and was on his way to work. ... We don’t know if the young male was under influence at all. We have sent his body to the forensic center in Knoxville for an autopsy. That report, when it is released to us, will tell us if he had any type of impairment in his system.”

Fagiana said Medina was employed at the Tanasi Golf Course clubhouse restaurant.

According to Bowen’s report, video footage between 10 p.m. and 1:45 a.m. shows six people around the clubhouse property and parking lot.

LCSO Deputy Christian Rogers found Andrea Joy Bishop, 26, Vonore, passed out in a green Xterra with the passenger side door open in the Tanasi parking lot. A man’s belongings were found outside the passenger door, according to the report. Fagiana confirmed Bishop was also employed at Tanasi.

“The vehicle was in drive and the keys were in the ignition but not running,” Rogers wrote in a report. “In plain view were numerous alcoholic beverages, raw marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The driver did not wake up easily and after being asked what was going on she stated, ‘drinks bro.’ ... Ms. Bishop stated she did not remember getting in her car or how it got to the position it was in. Ms. Bishop stated she had a passenger, Joseph Medina, who had been drinking with her, however she did not know where he was.”

Bishop was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and driving under the influence and released on $4,000 bond.

Fagiana said he didn’t know how Bishop was connected to the events leading up to Medina’s death.

“It’s a very broad investigation because we’re trying to determine exactly what led up to the young male finding himself lying in the middle of the roadway,” Fagiana said. “We’re trying to work backward and piece all these steps together. That’s very important for us. We want to be able to tell that family what happened to that young man and why he ended up in the roadway before he was even struck.

“... I’ve done this for 22 years and I tell people ... it gets a lot harder the older I get,” he added. “I don’t know if it’s because we start to appreciate life the older we get, but regardless of the circumstances that led up to this tragedy, it’s senseless and no young 20-year-old male should ever die like this. It’s one of those calls that it makes everyone involved pause for a second and it’s senseless. I hate it for the family and I hate it for the young man who’s missing out on a lot of life that was meant to be lived.”

Investigators are working to identify the remaining individuals in the video footage.

“If anyone has information regarding this case, especially in the events leading up to that young man’s death, they’re urged to call our detectives division and help provide that information,” Fagiana said.

LCSO can be reached at 865-986-4823.