|“||Sometimes things just happen to you. They just happen. You can't help it. But it's what you do next that counts. Not what happens but what you decide to do about it.||”|
|— Hannah Baker narrating the story, in "Tape 5, Side B"|
The Accident on the Intersection of Tanglewood and Bay Street involved the death of Liberty High School student Jeff Atkins and the injury of Mr. Cantrell. It was a collision of two cars that was believed to have been caused by Jeff Atkins' drinking, but it was the result of Sheri Holland crashing into a stop sign and knocking it down while she took her eyes off the road. Sheri refused to call the police about the stop sign. Clay Jensen was the one who witnessed the accident and called the police.
Hannah Baker was riding home with Sheri Holland on the way back from Jessica's party. Sheri was briefly distracted from looking for a cell phone charger in her purse for Hannah's phone. Sheri took her eyes off the road for a second and caused her to steer into a stop sign and knock it down. Hannah wanted to call the police about the stop sign, but Sheri refused, preferring that she stayed out of trouble.
Sheri had abandoned Hannah at the stop sign and then drove home. Hannah went to the Blue Spot Liquor store to find a charger. He saw the owner playing a game on his cell phone and demanded him to give it to him to call the police, but the accident already occurred and Clay had already called the police about it.
The two cars seemed to crash into each other since one of the cars couldn't see the stop sign. Jeff's car had crashed into a barrier that led to his death. Mr Cantrell's car seemed to be impacted by the other car. He was taken into the ambulance demanding to speak with his wife. Clay Jensen had arrived to witness the crash and tried to rescue Jeff. Jeff's car had multiple cans of beer in the front passenger's side as seen by Clay. Jeff was unconscious and couldn't respond to Clay's cries. He was pronounced dead. Clay ran to tell Mr. Cantrell's wife about her husband.
Liberty High School had responded to Jeff Atkin's death by posting drunk driving poster as Jeff was witnessed to be driving with multiple beer cans. The whole incident caused Hannah Baker to feel paranoid and tried to tell Sheri Holland about the accident. Sheri denies that the stop sign knocked over had caused it, as Jeff had beer cans in his car, and believes that he was killed as a result of drunk driving. Sheri told Hannah not say anything, or they'll both pay the price, and to stay away from her.
In the present day, Clay Jensen tells Sheri that he listened to her tape about he accident. Clay had kept himself in disguise after he was suspended for drug possession and went to meet Sheri Holland on the bleachers near the school's running track about the incident. Clay talks to Sheri about what happened on her tape, and Sheri denies any involvement while still under the impression that Jeff's drinking was what caused the driving. Clay believes that the stop sign knocked over caused the accident.
Sheri didn't want Clay to judge her for the worst thing she's ever done, so she wants to show Clay what she has been doing to show him that she is not like everyone else on Hannah's Tapes. Sheri invites Clay to the Cantrells' home where Sheri is helping Mr. Cantrell doing tasks and chores around the house. The Cantrells think highly of Sheri, but Sheri doesn't tell the Cantrells about how she was involved in the accident.
Clay wants Sheri to tell the truth about the accident to Jeff's parents, saying they have a right to know. Sheri, however, is reluctant to do this. So Clay goes over alone to the Atkin's home to tell his parents the truth. Hannah mentions in her tapes that she wanted to tell the Atkins about what happened to Jeff everytime she passed by their house.
Jeff's baseball jersey was hung in the gym during Season 2 in Memoriam of Jeff Atkins while the other players mourn over him.
- Jeff Atkins (killed as a result, believed to be under the influence at the time)
- Mr. Cantrell (left physically injured)
- Operator: "9-1-1, what's your emergency?"
- Hannah: "I want to report an accident."
- Operator: "Where?"
- Hannah: "At the corner of Tanglewood and Bay Street."
- Operator: "Yes, ma'am, got it. It's gonna be okay. We already have this call. Units are responding to the scene."
- Hannah: "You got the call?"
- Operator: "Yeah. We have the call."
- ― Hannah calling 911 about the stop sign
|“||It takes a tragedy like this one, unfortunately, to remind us how important it is to be safe, to be sober and never drink and drive.||”|
|— Principal Bolan about Jeff's death|
- Clay: "Your husband was in an accident. He's alive. The paramedics said an officer would come tell you, but your husband wanted you to know right away, so I came."
- Mrs. Cantrell: "Was anyone else hurt?"
- Clay: "Yes."
- Mrs. Cantrell: "Oh, Lord."
- ― Clay telling Mrs. Cantrell about the accident
|“||I was the first person to get there. I was walking home and I heard the crash. I found Jeff. I found him.||”|
|— Clay telling the Atkins about finding Jeff.|
- Clay: "It wasn't Jeff's fault. The stop sign on the corner had been knocked down earlier in the night. I don't know. The cops thought it was Jeff's fault, I guess. But it was already down. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
- Mr. Atkins: "How do you know this about the stop sign? Did you knock it down?"
- Clay: "No. No."
- Mr. Atkins: "Then why are you apologizing?"
- Clay: "I've been angry at Jeff since he died because he told me he was sober, and I thought he lied and did something stupid, and I hated him for leaving that way, and I was wrong. I was wrong."
- ― Clay telling the Atkins about the stop sign.
- Throughout the show's history, Jeff Atkins is the first known character to be labeled as deceased on the show. The next was Hannah Baker, then Bryce Walker, then Montgomery de la Cruz, and then Harrison Chatham and then Justin Foley/Jensen