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Saturday Crash Near State Line Kills a South Carolina Driver and a Young Family of Three

By Jessica Isaacs

Officials continue to investigate a wreck that killed a family of three and the driver that hit them near the North Carolina/Tennessee state line on Saturday night.

N.C. Highway Patrol reports that 64-year-old Michael Pinkham of Ridgeway, South Carolina was traveling north toward Tennessee on U.S. Highway 421 at a high rate of speed when he crossed the centerline and his Chevy truck struck an oncoming Honda Civic head on.

The collision happened just after 8 p.m. on the North Carolina side of the state line, and the impact carried both vehicles across the line into Tennessee. Both vehicles caught fire and the truck was completely engulfed in flames.

Trooper Grogan of NCHP said Pinkham was traveling at an estimated 90 mph in a posted 55 mph speed limit zone.

The Honda Civic carried a young family from Mountain City — Nicholas and Molly Blackwell, 24 and 23, and their 11-month-old daughter, Harper. All three were killed in the crash.

Rescue technicians pulled Pinkham from the burning truck and he was transported to Watauga Medical Center, where he later passed away.

Responding agencies included North Carolina and Tennessee highway patrol, Watauga EMS and Zionville Volunteer Fire Department.

“Driving can be a dangerous, dangerous path,” Grogan said. “It’s important not only to pay attention to what you’re doing, but also to other folks.”

Grogan said Pinkham was battling health issues including diabetes and heart problems. NCHP will continue to investigate and has ordered both an autopsy and a toxicology screen on Pinkham to see if alcohol or any other factors contributed to wreck.