By Lacy Hilliard
Four people lost their lives in a head-on collision on Saturday, May 16 at around 8:30 p.m. The collision occurred right on the North Carolina and Tennessee state line on Highway 421 when a Chevrolet K3500 dually pickup truck, driven by Michael Pinkham (64) of Ridgeway, South Carolina, crossed over the double yellow line and struck a Honda Civic containing Nicholas Blackwell (24), his wife Molly Blackwell (23) and their 11-month-old daughter, Harper.
Highway Patrol Trooper Matthew Grogan stated that the pickup truck was traveling at least 90 miles per hour when it slammed into the Blackwells vehicle. The impact sent the small sedan careening off the road, while the pick-up truck began spilling large amounts of diesel fuel that ultimately ignited.
Johnson County Deputy Matt Cress was first to arrive on the scene. According to Deputy Cress, good Samaritans were doing what they could to help the victims when he arrived but for the Blackwell family, it was too late. All three were pronounced dead at the scene. Pinkham was pronounced dead shortly after at Watauga Medical Center in Boone, North Carolina.
Trooper Grogan praised good Samaritans Terry Scott of Beaverdam and Frankie Isaacs of Zionville for their heroics and quick thinking. The pair pulled forced the door of the burning pickup truck open but attaching a chain from their vehicle in an effort to free the driver.
It has not yet been determined whether drugs, alcohol or a medical condition could have played a role in the deadly accident; however, Trooper Grogan stated that Pinkham was known to have a myriad of health conditions.
Molly Blackwell was a 2013 graduate of Milligan College. Her husband, Nicholas, was a 2013 graduate of East Tennessee State University. The couple, in addition to their only child, Harper, made their home in Mountain City, Tennessee.
By Lacy Hilliard