By: Lacy Hilliard
There are new details in the crash that killed a young Mountain City family.
Nicholas (24), Molly (23) and their daughter, Harper Blackwell (11 months) were traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 421 in their Honda Civic when a Chevrolet pickup truck operated by Michael Pinkham (64) crossed over the double yellow line and struck the Civic head on. The Blackwell family and Pinkham all perished in the crash, which occurred right at the Tennessee and North Carolina state lines.
Early reports concluded that Pinkham was traveling northbound at a high rate of speed (approximately 90 m.p.h.), however investigators awaited toxicology reports performed on Pinkham to see whether or not alcohol played a role.
The toxicology reports concluded that Pinkham was indeed well over the legal limit for alcohol consumption confirmed by two separate tests. The legal limit of intoxication in North Carolina is 80 mg/dL of ethanol (the active ingredient in alcohol). The first specimen submitted for review by Medical Examiner, Frank Pippen was a sample collected from the subclavian blood vessel. That sample contained ethanol levels of 150 mg/dL — well over the legal limit. The second sample collected came from the vitreous humor of the eye and was shown to contain 230 mg/dL of ethanol almost three times the legal limit.
Molly Blackwell was a 2013 graduate of Milligan College. Her husband, Nicholas, was a 2013 graduate of East Tennessee State University. Both Molly and Nicholas were graduates of Johnson County High School. The couple, in addition to their only child, Harper, made their home in Mountain City, Tennessee.