An accident on April 20 at Hwy. 51 and Rialto Road killed David “Snake” Mauldin and Randy Sage. They were the third and fourth people to die at the dangerous intersection in the last six months. Photo by Andy Posey

COVINGTON – The Tennessee Department of Transportation will conduct a study at Hwy. 51 and Rialto after several people died in accidents at the intersection in recent months.

Covington Fire Chief Richard Griggs announced the request for the study in a public safety committee meeting last Tuesday. Unbeknownst to him at the time of his request, he said, the Tennessee Highway Patrol had asked as well.

“I know in my 27 years here at the fire department we have had numerous automobile accidents at this location,” Griggs said. “Four in six months is pretty alarming.”


Three of those deaths were in the last month alone.

As they were crossing the highway, and headed east to Rialto Road, 55-year-old David “Snake” Mauldin and 56-year-old Randy Sage were killed when the car they were in was hit by a northbound semi.

Twelve days prior, 88-year-old Bill King was killed under the same circumstances.

Lorraine Forsee of Millington was also killed at Rialto Road on Oct. 21, 2019. The 66-year-old was headed northbound on Hwy. 51 when a Dodge truck driven by Michael Leonard, also 66, hit her. As in the other accidents, Leonard was traveling eastbound from Leigh’s Chapel to Rialto. He was later charged failing to yield the right of way.

“We wanted to do our part and make sure we notified the proper authorities,” Griggs said. “If something can be done, we’re gonna try and see if that can happen.”

He reported the state believed the number of fatalities at the intersection in a short period of time warranted a study.

It will take some time for the state to complete their work.

“This program makes safety improvements based on recommendations from a team that reviews the site,” said TDOT’s Community Relations Officer Nichole Lawrence. “This process takes approximately 12-18 months to review the site, design plans and have a contract awarded for the recommended improvements.”


Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.