Tractor-trailer driver pleads guilty to manslaughter, DUI charges after fatal head-on crash in Wise County

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WISE COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) – An Ohio man pleaded guilty Thursday to multiple charges stemming from a head-on crash in Wise County that left one dead and another seriously injured.

According to a release from the office of Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp, Tavis Lee Tolliver, 31, of Jackson, Ohio, pleaded guilty to the following:

  • Aggravated vehicular manslaughter
  • Driving a vehicle while intoxicated with reckless disregard
  • Driving a vehilce while intoxicated

The release states authorities responded to a crash on February 24, 2021 on Route 23 South over Route 58A.

When officers arrived, they discovered a 2017 Chevrolet Cruze had been hit head-on by a 1997 International tractor-trailer.

According to the release, the Chevrolet was driven by Amanda Pearson, “who was maimed in the crash and was flown to Bristol Regional Medical Center with serious injuries.”

The passenger in the Chevrolet was identified as Perry Shea Owens. Owens died as a result of injuries he received in the crash.

Tolliver had been driving the tractor-trailer in the wrong direction at the time of the crash, the release states.

Tolliver reportedly admitted to investigators that he had been driving the commercial truck on the wrong side of the road when he hit the Chevrolet head-on.

“An analysis of Tolliver’s blood by the Department of Forensic Science revealed that Tolliver was under the influence of Methamphetamine, Fentanyl and Amphetamines at the time of crash which resulted in the maiming of Ms. Pearson and the death of Mr. Owens,” the release states.

Tolliver is scheduled to appear in court for sentencing on October 13, 2021.

The release states the Norton Police Department, Wise County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police all contributed in the investigation. Slemp’s office specifically recognized Senior Trooper Ryan Stiltner in the release for his efforts in the investigation.

“This is a tragic case in which an innocent life was cut short because of the reckless and selfish actions of an intoxicated driver,” Slemp said in the release. “We are determined to hold this man accountable for his senseless crimes.”

Tolliver faces a total maximum punishment of up to 26 years in prison.

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