Tennessee Highway Patrol was leading DeSantis motorcade that crashed in Chattanooga

Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, walks in the July 4 parade in Merrimack, N.H. (AP Photo/Reba Saldanha, File)

NASHVILLE — A Tennessee Highway Patrol vehicle was leading the motorcade taking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to a Chattanooga presidential campaign fundraiser when Tuesday's multivehicle accident on Interstate 75 occurred.

"THP was providing an escort for the four vehicles in the DeSantis motorcade," Chattanooga police spokesperson Kevin West told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in response to questions about the accident, which made national news.

The THP vehicle's driver had to brake quickly due to an accident ahead of the motorcade, West said.

"The Tennessee Highway Patrol provided one guide vehicle to assist Gov. DeSantis' motorcade in Hamilton County," THP Communications Director Wes Moster Moster said by email Wednesday. "The THP vehicle was not impacted in the crash.

"It is standard practice for the Tennessee Highway Patrol to provide assistance for governors traveling within the state," Moster added in response to a question about the state's policy on providing the service to a political campaign.

The Associated Press reported that Florida law enforcement was providing protection for DeSantis and campaign spokesperson Bryan Griffin. Following the traffic mishap, DeSantis proceeded to the North Chattanooga-area political event.

A DeSantis female staff member, who had suffered a minor injury, was treated at the home where the event took place, Chattanooga police said.

"Because of an accident ahead, the marked THP vehicle had to brake quickly," West said in his email to the Times Free Press. "The first vehicle in the DeSantis motorcade had to stop without hitting the THP vehicle; the second vehicle in the motorcade was not able to stop in time to avoid making contact with the first — and the third and fourth followed."

Three of the four vehicles had to be towed from the scene, West said. But the vehicle with DeSantis and his staff was able to be driven to the planned event.

The accident occurred on southbound I-75 near East Brainerd Road.

The Secret Service website says that in regard to presidential campaigns, the agency is authorized by law to protect major presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses within 120 days of a general presidential election.

Contact Andy Sher at [email protected] or 615-285-9480.