Grand Jury indicts man charged in accident that left mother dead, two sons injured

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   A Grand Jury that convened on Monday handed down an indictment against the man charged in connection with an August 2002 car accident that left a mother dead and her two children injured.
   Joshua David Whitehead, 24, 227 Centerview Drive, has been indicted on one count of vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular assault, and one count of simple possession.
   Whitehead was originally charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, but one of those counts was upgraded to vehicular homicide at Whitehead's initial court appearance because one of the injured victims, Teresa Sims, 35, later died as a result of injuries she sustained in the accident.
   The accident occurred on Aug. 28, 2002, at approximately 9 p.m. on West Elk Avenue in front of the Inland Containers facility. "Mr. Whitehead was driving a Jeep Cherokee traveling North on West Elk Avenue. He left those northbound lanes, crossed the center line and struck a vehicle that was traveling south on that same highway," Elizabethton Police Department PTL Michael Merritt said.
   The other vehicle was a van driven by Sims, whose two young sons were also in the vehicle with her. Hutch Sims, who was four years old at the time, was seriously injured in the accident and was transported to the Johnson City Medical Center by Wings Air Rescue. He sustained two broken legs and a serious head injury in accident. His brother, 11-year-old Michael, sustained minor injuries and was treated at Sycamore Shoals Hospital.
   Mrs. Sims was also transported to the Johnson City Medical Center by Wings Air Rescue. "Mrs. Sims died in the early morning of Aug. 29 at the Medical Center," Merritt said.
   Sims also had a daughter, April, a student at Hampton High School, who was not in the vehicle at the time of the accident.
   When the accident occurred, Whitehead appeared to be under the influence of some medication, Merritt said, but was not charged with DUI. "It's a lesser included offense with the vehicular homicide and you can't charge someone with both," he said, adding that in order to gain a conviction on the vehicular homicide charge, prosecutors will need to prove that Whitehead was under the influence.