City woman arrested following accident

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com
An Elizabethton woman was arrested Friday evening and charged with alcohol and drug related offenses after her involvement in a two-car collision on West Elk Avenue that injured one person.
Teresa L. Swearingen, 48, of 1344 Broad St., was charged with DUI, two counts of the possession of Schedule IV narcotics, violation of the implied consent law and violation of the financial responsibility law.
According to reports, officers were dispatched to the accident which occurred at the intersection of West Elk Avenue and McArthur Street, near Krystal's Restaurant at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
A report by Elizabethton Police Department Ptl. Michael Merritt, the officer who investigated the crash, states that Swearingen had been driving a 1988 Pontiac Grand Prix and was attempting to make a left-hand turn from the westbound lanes of West Elk Avenue onto McArthur Street when she pulled into the oncoming path of a Nissan Quest minivan. The two vehicles collided head-on.
The driver of the minivan, Melba J. Gouge, 52, of 197 Constitution Ave., was injured in the accident and was transported to the Johnson City Medical Center by emergency personnel from the Carter County Rescue Squad. Two juvenile female passengers in the vehicle driven by Gouge were not injured.
"Upon speaking with Swearingen (I) noticed her speech to be slow, deliberate and slurred," Merritt states in his report. "Upon exiting the vehicle the driver appeared to be extremely unsteady on her feet."
At that time, Merritt asked Swearingen to submit to a series of field sobriety tests, which she didn't pass, according to the officer's report.
Swearingen was then taken into custody, and because she was not injured in the accident, she was transported to the Carter County Jail.
While at the jail, Merritt discovered a cigarette wrapper in Swearingen's wallet which contained seven tablets, identified as four tablets of Xanax and three tablets of Alprazalam, both of which are Schedule IV controlled substances.
Swearingen is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court today.