Man charged with vehicular homicide in fatal crash on Sunday

Published 12:56 pm Monday, January 8, 2018

A Carter County man faces a homicide charge following a motor vehicle accident early Sunday morning that claimed the life of a passenger in his vehicle.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Ryan Brackett arrested Taylor Blaine Wright, 28, of 146 Hidden Oaks Drive, Johnson City, on Sunday morning and charged him with vehicular homicide, failure to exercise due care, and failure to maintain lane of travel.

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Around 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, Brackett and other emergency personnel responded to a report of a single-vehicle accident on Highway 359, locally known as Okolona Road.

“Upon my arrival, I observed a Ford brown Victoria that had been traveling south on Highway 359 where the driver failed to maintain his lane and left the roadway to the left striking numerous trees,” Brackett said. “I was advised that the male passenger was deceased and still in the vehicle and the male driver was currently being checked by Carter County EMS.”

The Tennessee Highway Patrol identified the man who died in the accident as 44-year-old Roger Warner, of Byron, Mich. Brackett noted in his report that Warner was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident but also noted that in his opinion that the use of a seatbelt would not have made a difference in the accident.

Brackett said he spoke with the driver, whom he identified as Blaine, while he was in an ambulance at the scene and noted that he smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage.

“I then asked Mr. Wright if he had been drinking, at which time he replied, ‘yes,’” Brackett said.

Brackett said he then had Wright perform field sobriety tests that he could perform without moving due to possible injuries suffered by Wright. The Trooper said Wright’s performance of the tests was consistent with someone who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

According to Brackett, Wright consented to a blood test to determine the alcohol or drug content of his blood, but the Trooper said he also obtained a search warrant before obtaining the blood sample.

Wright was transported to the Johnson City Medical Center for treatment, and following his release from the hospital, Brackett took Wright into custody and charged him with vehicular homicide.

Okolona Road was shut down for several hours as officers investigated the accident.

Wright appeared in Carter County General Sessions Court for arraignment on Monday morning. Judge Keith Bowers Jr. appointed the Public Defender’s Office to represent Wright and scheduled the man to return to Sessions Court on January 16.

Prior to his court appearance, Wright had been held at the Carter County Detention Center without bond. Bowers set Wright’s bond at $25,000 and ordered that as a condition of bond, Wright will be required to be outfitted with an alcohol monitoring device.