Teen dies in hit-and-run, Sevierville police search for suspect

Published: Jul. 15, 2017 at 4:58 PM EDT
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One man is dead in an apparent hit-and-run accident in Sevierville, and his mother wants to find the driver who's responsible.

Cordell Breighner, 19, was found early Saturday morning on Old Knoxville Highway. Sevierville Police Department investigators said they received autopsy information Tuesday afternoon that confirmed Brieghner's injuries were consistent with being struck by a motor vehicle.

Cordell's mother, Cheryl Breighner, said that as soon as she learned of her son's death, she went to the spot where he was found and put out flowers.

She said that she invited her son's friends to come do the same, and she was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support she received from them.

"I think it would have made him feel real good, to know that many people cared and took time out of their day to Facebook me and come see me, talk to my mother and ask me did I need anything," Breighner said.

Cordell's friend, Angel Espino, said that as soon as he heard about the accident, he made a cross to put out at the spot and brought a red marker for everyone to sign it with. He said Cordell's favorite color was red.

"Cordell was a good guy," Espino said. " He always made everybody laugh. He made me laugh."

Breigner said that she's angry about what's happened; not so much at the driver she said, but that her son had a mental illness and she couldn't get him the help he needed. She said that's why Cordell was always walking the roads — he had medication he was supposed to take to ease his symptoms, but didn't.

"Just because people are walking around, they might be talking to themselves, they might be fidgeting," Breighner said. "That doesn't mean they're high; they could have a mental health problem."

Breighner said that she doesn't want her son's death to be in vain. She said that she wants to find a way to help others so they don't suffer the same fate as her son.

"This hurts so bad, like no pain I've ever felt before," Breighner said. " I want to move on, I don't want him to have died for nothing."

The Sevierville Police Department said the vehicle involved in the accident likely has sustained heavy damages to its front end and windshield, and possible side damage to the left mirror.

Officers are asking for the public's help in identifying the driver. Call officer Kevin Bush at 865-868-1748 or officer Preston Parrish at 865-453-5507.