Trial Of Truck Driver In Wreck That Claimed 6 Lives At Ooltewah Exit Is Delayed

Friday, June 16, 2017

The trial of a truck driver charged in six deaths at the Ooltewah exit of I-75 has been delayed.

A jury was selected in Nashville on Monday for the Benjamin Brewer trial, which was set to begin this coming Monday in the courtroom of Judge Don Poole.

A new trial date will be selected in court on Monday. The initial jury will be dismissed and a new one chosen later.

The defense said it learned that the National Transportation Safety Board tested Brewer's blood from the time of the wreck and found a lower level of meth and amphetamine than a test by the TBI.

The TBI test showed .08 micrograms per milliliter of meth and less than .05 micrograms per milliliter of amphetamine.

The defense said the NTSB sent the blood to a lab that found .045 micrograms per milliliter of meth and less than .022 micrograms per milliliter of amphetamine.

The TBI test was last July 16. The NTSB test was Nov. 10. 

The defense said it needs time to study the results of the NTSB and to call a lab worker as a witness.

The defense said it did not learn about the NTSB test until late in the day on Wednesday.

The public defender's office is representing Brewer, who is from Kentucky.

Brian Gallaher, band director for Ocoee Middle School in Cleveland, was among those killed in a 9-vehicle crash on northbound Interstate 75 near the Ooltewah exit. He was in a 2010 Toyota Prius.

Also killed was Jason Ramos, assistant director of residential life at Dalton State. He was on his way home to Brunswick, Ohio, for vacation, traveling in a 2003 Mazda station wagon.

Sisters Savannah and Kelsey, eight and 10, were also among the fatalities. They were killed along with two other occupants of the same 2010 Toyota Scion. They were Tiffany Watts, 31, of Morristown, Tn., and Sandra Anderson, 50, of Rutledge, Tn. Ms. Watts was the mother and Ms. Anderson the grandmother of the girls. The two children were living in California with their father. This was the only vehicle in the wreck that caught fire. One woman from the Scion was ejected, and the others died in the fire.

Police said the tragic accident at Ooltewah on Thursday night was caused when a tractor-trailer slammed into eight vehicles stopped for a construction project.  

The driver of the 2007 Peterbuilt semi was identified as Benjamin Scott Brewer, 39, of London, Ky. He and his female companion, Charity Dawn Pennington, 38, were not injured.

There were a total of 18 individuals involved. Six individuals were medically treated or transported to local hospitals, and six required no medical treatment.

Those with non-life threatening injuries were Marty Tumbleson and Charles Allen Daniels Jr. of Tennessee in a GMC Savana van, John and Nancy Stanley of Mississippi in a 2007 Chevy Highlander minivan, Ryan Humphries of Tennessee in a 2001 Ford F150, and Justin Knox of Mississippi in a 2015 Cadillac TS.

Also involved in the wreck with no injuries were Travis and Tina Close and their two minor children. They were in a 2015 Toyota Tundra. There were 12 people injured in all.

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