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Marion Police Officer Ruled Not At Fault in Accident Killing Avery County Man on Jan. 30

By Tim Gardner

District Attorney Ted Bell of the State of North Carolina Prosecutorial District 4, comprised of McDowell and Rutherford Counties, released a report February 27 that clears a Marion police officer from liability in a recent accident he was involved in that claimed the life of an Avery County man.

The report said that Police Corporal Christian Wyatt was not at fault in the January 30th crash at the intersection of Highway 221 and Pitts Station Road near Baxter’s Healthcare in the North Cove Community of McDowell County. David Christopher (Chris) Ollis, age 48, of the Ingalls Community in Avery County, was killed in the crash. Corporal Wyatt, accompanied by his Marion Police Department K-9 Marsoc and Police Officer Matthew Huggins, was driving north on Highway 221 on the way to a Man Tracking Class at the training center in Avery County when the accident occurred.

The Marion Police Department patrol vehicle Corporal Wyatt was driving had an Event Data Recorder which was downloaded and examined from the period of the crash by the North Carolina Highway Patrol’s Accident Reconstruction Unit. The police patrol vehicle was also equipped with a dash mounted camera that recorded an interior view of Corporal Wyatt and Officer Huggins and an exterior view in front of the vehicle.

The interior view of the dash camera showed Corporal Wyatt was observing the highway in front of him as he was driving, was not using his cell phone or any other device and was not distracted by any object in the vehicle.

The exterior view of the dash camera showed Corporal Wyatt had a green light as he approached the intersection and that Ollis failed to yield to Corporal Wyatt’s oncoming vehicle before entering the intersection and turning across the oncoming traffic. The dash camera also revealed that Ollis entered the intersection so close in front of Corporal Wyatt’s vehicle that Corporal Wyatt in “no way” could have avoided the collision, according to the report.

Additionally, Highway Patrol information revealed that Ollis was not wearing a seat belt and was partially ejected from his vehicle, suffering fatal injuries.

Ollis was pronounced dead at the scene, while Wyatt and Huggins were taken to Mission Hospital McDowell in Marion for examination and later released. K-9 Marsoc was taken to his veterinarian’s office for evaluation and said to not have been injured during the collision, according to authorities.

Trooper Michael Childres of the North Carolina Highway Patrol investigated the accident.

Ollis was a member of New Hope Independent Baptist Church in Ingalls. He was a longtime employee of Baxter Healthcare. He helped coach Little League Baseball and Flag Football for three years.

Ollis was a 1988 graduate of Avery County High School.

Memorial donations in Ollis’ honor may be made to Avery County Little League, 298 Watauga Street, Newland, NC 28657.

District Attorney Bell requests that others keep the family of the victim, and the officers involved in the accident and investigation, in their thoughts and prayers.

The District Attorney’s complete report of the accident can be accessed online at: