Ohio truck driver sentenced to 26 years for wrong-way, fatal crash in Wise Co.
WISE, Va. (WJHL) — A commercial truck driver from Ohio received a 26-year sentence on Wednesday for aggravated manslaughter after pleading guilty to a wrong-way car crash that left one man dead in Wise County, Virginia.
Travis Lee Tolliver, 31, of Jackson, Ohio, will serve an active 22 years behind bars, with five years of supervised probation to follow, according to a press release from the Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office.
According to the attorney’s office, Tolliver was driving a 1997 International Truck Model #9400 in the wrong lane on Route 23 South on Feb. 24, 2021 when he hit a 2017 Chevrolet Cruze head-on.
The driver, Amanda Gail Pearson, was injured in the crash and flown to Bristol Regional Medical Center with serious injuries, and the passenger, Perry Shea Owens, died at the scene.
Tolliver admitted to driving his truck on the wrong side of the road during the investigation, the release said, and an analysis of his blood by the Department of Forensic Science revealed Tolliver had methamphetamine, fentanyl and amphetamines in his system during the crash.
He was convicted on Aug. 2 for the following:
- aggravated vehicular manslaughter
- felony maiming of another in the commission of driving a vehicle while intoxicated with reckless disregard
- driving while intoxicated
“Under Virginia law, someone operating a motor vehicle with 0.1 or more milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood is presumed to be under the influence,” said Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Steven Davis. “In this case, the defendant 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.”
Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp said persecutors asked for the highest amount of punishment for the offense.
“We place the utmost faith and trust in our commercial motor vehicle operators to be the best drivers on the road,” Slemp. “Operating a multi-ton truck at high rates of speed is unbelievably dangerous. 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.”
Agencies that assisted in the investigation include the Norton Police Department, Virginia State Police and the Wise County Sheriff’s Office.
The investigation was led by Senior Trooper Ryan Stiltner, and the Commonwealth also thanked Norton City Police Officer Jason McConnell and other first responders who assisted at the crash scene.
Tolliver remains in the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail at Duffield and awaits his transfer to the Virginia Department of Correction to begin serving his sentence.