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Ohio man sentenced to 22 years in fatal wrong-way crash

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A commercial truck driver from southern Ohio has been ordered to serve 22 years in a Virginia prison following his guilty plea in a fatal wrong-way crash earlier this year in Wise County.

Travis Lee Tolliver, 31, appeared in Wise County Circuit Court on Thursday. He previously pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated vehicular manslaughter, felony maiming of another in the commission of driving a vehicle while intoxicated with reckless disregard and driving a vehicle while intoxicated.

The judge ordered him to serve 22 years of prison time, followed by five years of supervised probation.

On Feb. 24, Tolliver was involved in a wrong-way crash on U.S. Highway 23, according to Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp. Authorities learned a 2017 Chevrolet Cruz, driven by Amanda Gail Pearson, 20, was in the southbound lane when it was hit head on by a 1997 International Truck, driven by Tolliver. Pearson was taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries and her passenger, Perry Shea Owens, 22, died at the scene, Slemp said.

Slemp said Tolliver admitted to driving his truck on the wrong side of the road when he hit the Chevrolet. An analysis of his blood revealed he was under the influence of methamphetamine, fentanyl and amphetamines, according to Slemp.

During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutors said Tolliver had previously been convicted of larceny, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and drug-related charges in Ohio.

Under Virginia law, someone operating a motor vehicle with 0.1 or more milligrams of meth per liter of blood is presumed to be under the influence. Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Steven Davis said Tolliver had 17 times the presumptive amount in his blood.

“It’s unbelievable that someone with this level of intoxication could barely function, let alone drive an enormous vehicle on the highway,” Davis said.

Slemp said, “The utter disregard for the safety of others in this case is unthinkable, driving a big rig while intoxicated by 17 times over the presumptive intoxicated amount of methamphetamine. There are no words to sufficiently describe it. Likewise, to take an innocent life in such a senseless manner is unbelievable. I believe that there is no sentence severe enough to sufficiently punish it, and that is why we asked the Court to impose the maximum punishment available under Virginia law.”

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