FARRAGUT, Tenn. (WATE) – A missing east Tennessee preschool teacher was found dead near her vehicle Saturday afternoon in Loudon County.
Melanie Coley, 29,was found deceased near her vehicle down an embankment on Sugar Limb Road in Farargut. Officials say it appears she was the victim of a single vehicle accident and was ejected from the car.
The car was found by the Tennessee Highway Patrol while investigating Coley’s normal traffic routes. The area had been previously checked, but the vehicle was so far off the road it was not easily visible.
Coley had last been seen Thursday night at Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, 11863 Parkside Drive, in Turkey Creek. Her family alerted authorities when they did not hear from her.
“Melanie calls me every morning on her way to work, I mean like clockwork. I could almost set my watch. She didn’t call Friday morning,” said Coley’s Mom, Debi Puchel.
That was when Puchel said she knew something bad had happened to her daughter. She reported her missing to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office Friday.
When WATE 6 On Your Side sat down with her Saturday afternoon it was an emotional plea to help find Melanie Coley.
“Melanie is a fun-loving person. She likes to have a good time. She likes to be happy. Her kids are her life,” said Puchel.
Coley was a mom of two young daughters and a teacher at Primrose School in Farragut. About an hour after Puchel spoke with WATE 6 On Your Side Reporter Whitney Good, she got the news no mother ever wants to hear.
Coley’s car was found crashed down an embankment off Sugarlimb Road in Loudon County. Coley was dead.
“Nobody should grow up without their mom. She’s just a goodhearted person,” Puchel had said.
Puchel later told WATE 6 On Your Side that police told her Coley’s car traveled about 30 feet down the embankment killing her on impact.
“I feel like a failure as a mom. I’m supposed to protect my kids. I’m not supposed to allow harm come to them. That’s my job as their mom no matter how old they are,” Puchel said earlier in the day.
After learning the news, Puchel said she was still in shock, now thinking of her granddaughters .
“Those babies are so blessed to have her as a mom,” she said.
Investigators said it looked like Coley was on her way home when she crashed.