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Fatal wreck claims three lives

By Richard Rourk

The names of the victims in a fatal crash that occurred on I-26 near mile marker 38 on Thursday, Dec. 19, have been released and they include a 1-year-old child.

According to Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) reports, A 2001 Dodge Dakota driven by 42-year-old Tina Marshall of Jonesborough was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes of traffic. A 2019 Toyota CHR driven by 23-year-old Anthony Owens of Erwin, and included 1-year-old Richard Owens as a passenger, was traveling westbound in the westbound lane. 

Both vehicles struck head on around 7:24 p.m. on Thursday and all occupants were killed.

According to law enforcement, Marshall was not wearing a seatbelt. Both alcohol and drug tests have been requested. 

According to Unicoi County Mike Hensley, multiple crews responded to the wreck and worked the scene into the night. 

“The people who responded to the wreck are dedicated professionals and a tremendous group of people,” Hensley said. “Our department was joined by (Washington County/Johnson City) EMS, Erwin Police Department, THP, Johnson City Police, and area fire departments including Erwin Fire Department on scene. Even though you do this every day, it’s just a sad situation, especially when there is a child involved. Our hearts and prayers are with the families.”

Erwin Police Chief Regan Tilson was thankful for all of those that responded. 

“We appreciate the help we received from Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department, Johnson City Police Department and Washington County Sheriff’s Office,” Tilson said. “We rerouted all the Interstate 26 traffic through town. That was very hectic and caused major congestion. I called several of our officers into work as well. THP is working the crash itself, and sent several troopers.”

According to Tilson, the crash was “devastating.” 

“This was an absolutely devastating crash and the families of the victims are in our prayers. There are no words sufficient for such a loss,” Tilson said.

The investigation is ongoing, according to officials.