Wrong-way driver travels miles on U.S. 64, hits 18-wheeler at Savannah

MARCH 16 – A Savannah man experiencing an apparent diabetic emergency Thursday night drove a Jeep about 2-1/2 miles on the wrong side of a divided section of four-lane U.S. 64 before slamming into an 18-wheeler just inside the city limit, according to a police report.

The driver of the sport utility vehicle, John Denni Highland, 42, was transported by ambulance to Hardin Medical Center with suspected serious injuries.

Savannah Patrolman Austin King said in his report that Central Dispatch advised there had been 911 calls about a red Jeep Liberty traveling east toward the city in the westbound lane. 

The first 911 caller told police she saw the Jeep begin driving on the wrong side of the highway in Crump. It continued across the levee and the Tennessee River bridge at high speed. Oncoming traffic managed to avoid the Jeep until impact was made with the tractor-trailer at about 7:23 p.m. near the former Huddle House restaurant.


Jamie L. Mayfield, 43, of Crump, was driving the 2016 International rig westbound in the left lane when he saw the Jeep approaching. Mayfield said he first tried to swerve left into the turning lane, but the Jeep did the same. Mayfield then swerved back toward the right, avoiding a head-on collision, but the Jeep hit the truck’s driver side fuel tank.

A third driver, Jonathan A. Lewis, 30, of Savannah was driving a 2004 Nissan Maxima just behind the tractor-trailer. Lewis said when Mayfield swerved to the right, he also steered to the right, striking the curb and ripping off the Nissan’s front passenger side tire.

The police report says emergency medical technicians at the scene advised Highland’s glucose levels were “critically low” and that he would need to be transported to the local emergency room.

King said he spoke with Highland at the hospital, and Highland said he had just purchased the 1999 Jeep in Adamsville and was on his way home.

Highland told the officer that he noticed his sugar was dropping and he was trying to make it to Savannah to get something to eat. Highland also said the last thing he could remember was driving through Crump.

King said Highland’s “low blood sugar is believed to be the cause of his unusual driving behavior as well as the primary cause of the accident.”

Highland, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was the only person reported injured. Both other drivers were wearing seatbelts, the crash report shows.

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