Woman charged with vehicular homicide in January wreck

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
An Erwin woman has been charged with vehicular homicide in connection with a January wreck in Carter County that killed a passenger in her vehicle.
Melissa R. White, 32, of 109 Natalie Lane, Lot. 5, was arrested on a true bill handed down by a Carter County Grand Jury last week charging her with vehicular homicide.
According to the true bill, White was "operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or an intoxicant and the said accident was a proximate result of intoxication."
The accident happened on Jan. 11, 2003 on Siam Road. Dora Chandley, White's mother, who was a passenger in White's pickup truck, was pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner Keith Ellis.
According to police reports, White said at the scene that she had been drinking a Dr. Pepper, had dropped the bottle, and had crashed after taking her eyes off the road while trying to retrieve it.
The accident report states that White turned off of U.S. Highway 19E and was traveling east on Siam Road when her truck left the road and traveled approximately 26 feet before striking a guard rail. The vehicle then re-entered the roadway and traveled more than 470 feet before veering off the roadway again.
The second time the vehicle left the roadway, the truck traveled approximately 94 feet before it struck a utility pole and stopped.
According to a report by Elizabethton Police Department Capt. Rusty Verran, White told officers she remembered striking the guardrail but did not remember anything about the accident after that point.
White sustained injuries in the accident and was treated on the scene by personnel from the Carter County Rescue Squad before being transported to the Johnson City Medical Center.
"Emergency medical personnel noted that, in speaking with Ms. White, her speech appeared to be slurred and (they) noticed she was not complaining of any injuries even though she had a compound fracture to her left arm," the report states.
While officers were conducting an inventory of White's vehicle prior to having it towed, narcotics and alcoholic beverages were found inside the vehicle, according to reports.
A blood sample taken while she received treatment at the Johnson City Medical Center determined White was intoxicated.