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Suspect in I-26 wrong-way DUI crash charged with vehicular homicide

STAFF REPORT • Dec 4, 2019 at 5:01 PM

KINGSPORT — The suspect in a wrong-way head-on collision on I-26 that took the life of a Johnson City woman in September has been charged with vehicular homicide.

According to a press release from the Kingsport Police Department, Zachary D. Hunt, 23, Unicoi, had a blood alcohol level in excess of 0.20, or more than twice the legal limit, at the time of the crash.

Hunt turned himself in Wednesday at the Kingsport Justice Center on an outstanding warrant charging him with vehicle homicide by intoxication, vehicular homicide, felony reckless endangerment, and driving under the influence.

On Sept. 1 at approximately 5:15 a.m., the KPD responded to a motor vehicle collision on westbound I-26 near mile marker 6 (Rock Springs Road exit).

The investigation revealed that a dark blue 2008 Honda Accord, driven and solely occupied by Margaret C. Buck, Johnson City, was lawfully traveling westbound on the interstate.

According to the KPD, at the same time a black 2005 Mercedes C230, driven and solely occupied by Hunt, was eastbound in the westbound lanes of I-26, at the same location.

The KPD report states that the Mercedes struck the Honda in a head-on impact.

Both drivers were transported to a local hospital for emergency medical treatment — Hunt with non-incapacitating injuries and Buck with serious injuries.

The following day, Buck succumbed to her injuries.

Based on officer observations, witness statements, and evidence found at the scene, investigators had sufficient cause to believe that alcohol consumption by Hunt was a significant factor in the crash, according to the KPD report.

A warrant was obtained for a blood sample, which was in turn sent to the TBI crime lab for analysis.

The results received on Oct. 2 revealed that Hunt had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than two and a half times the legal limit.

On Nov. 20, the facts of the case were presented to a Sullivan County grand jury, which returned a true bill of indictment on the above mentioned charges.

Hunt was transferred to the Sullivan County Jail in Blountville, where he was being held on $25,000 bond.