Investigators conclude death of Crown College student was accidental

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - The Blount County Sheriff's Office has confirmed the death of Crown College student Blake R. Smith, 20, was a result of accidental drowning stemming from internal bleeding.

Smith's vehicle was found at a construction site on Ballards Way in Louisville. Medical examiners say a vehicle accident caused Smith to suffer internal bleeding in the brain on impact, causing him to become disoriented. 

Investigators say Smith who was from Trussville, Alabama, wandered into nearby Georges Creek and accidentally drowned. His body was found on February 5. 

The toxicology report was negative for alcohol, nicotine, drugs (both illegal and legal), narcotics and more.

Smith's body was found in Georges Creek near a construction site in Louisville using a drone. The area is about half a mile from where Smith's car was found.

Sheriff's office spokesperson Marian O'Briant says a piece of concrete, like one would find at a construction site, was sitting next to the gas pedal and the car was running with the reverse lights on.

She says it appears Smith's vehicle got stuck in the mud and he placed the concrete on the accelerator while he pushed the vehicle from the driver's side fender. She says muddy handprints in that area of the car as well as nearby footprints support that idea.

O'Briant says it appears Smith got caught between the driver's door and the decking support and when they found the vehicle, the damage was consistent with hitting a 6x6 decking support post.

Next to the car were a boot, a beanie and his wallet. There was no evidence anyone else was with him or helped him with his vehicle when it became stuck in the mud.

She says the water he drowned in was 18 to 20 inches deep.

“Blake’s death is a sad and unfortunate accident,” Sheriff James Lee Berrong said. “From all accounts, he was a Godly and kind young man who had an adventurous spirit and liked to explore, which is likely why he came to Blount County. His life, and death, touched many people, including those of us at the Sheriff’s Office. I am very sad for the family and friends he left behind.”

The conclusion of the investigation comes following a meeting with medical examiners and the Blount County District Attorney General.

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