Driver charged following collision with ambulance

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khelms@starhq.com

   An Elizabethton woman who struck a Carter County Rescue Squad ambulance head-on Saturday afternoon has been charged with three counts of aggravated vehicular assault, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Mark Musick.
   Sharon Patrice Moody Oliver, 42, 165 Old Stoney Creek Highway, was traveling east on Highway 67/321 around 1:45 p.m. Saturday when her vehicle collided with an ambulance near Lakeshore Marina.
   Chris A. VanHuss, 30, 120 Cedar St., Johnson City, was traveling west in the 2002 E350 ambulance, running non-emergency traffic, when he traveled around a left-handed curve and was struck head-on by the car driven by Oliver.
   VanHuss and attendant Bob Morton, 43, of Watauga, had just responded to a call and were transporting a patient from nearby Watauga Point. Morton was in the back of the ambulance with patient Sheila Calahan, 40, 186 Ruby Ave., when the accident occurred. Calahan reportedly was injured while on an island at Watauga Lake.
   VanHuss and Calahan were transported by rescue squad members to Sycamore Shoals Hospital, where VanHuss was treated and released. Calahan's condition was unavailable.
   Morton, who received head injuries, was flown to Johnson City Medical Center by Wings Air Rescue. On Sunday evening, hospital officials reported that Morton had been discharged.
   Oliver received facial, chest and leg injuries and also was taken to the medical center by Wings. She was reported to be in fair condition Sunday evening.
   According to Trooper Musick, preliminary investigation showed that narcotics were possibly involved in the accident. Oliver had a bottle of pills imbedded in her chest as a result of impact, and two more pill bottles were found inside the vehicle.
   "Blood narcotics results will be available at a later date. The outcome of that will determine which way we go," Musick said.
   Speed was not determined to be a major factor, he said.
   "One of the witnesses reported that she was 'flying,' but the physical evidence there at the scene doesn't indicate a tremendous amount of speed," Musick said. However, "she was clearly on the wrong side of the road. The point of impact was just about in the dead center of the oncoming lane."
   The investigation is continuing. Moody was given a July 18 court date.