Family mourns loss of man killed by impaired driver

Family mourns loss of Tellico Plains man killed by impaired driver

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MADISONVILLE (WATE)— A Monroe County family is torn apart, after police say a drunk driver was speeding down the highway in the wrong lane.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol report, Amber Maddox, 28, hit another car head-on on U.S. Highway 411, killing Tellico Plains resident Alex Ownby, 21, and injuring his wife and toddler around 10 p.m. Friday night.

Two children in her car were also hurt.  

It has been nearly three days since the accident, but there are still remnants on the highway of the crash that claimed the life of Jacob Ownby.

"We had an awesome family night. We took Scarlett to her first movie, we got to goof off. We laughed whole car ride," said Alex Ownby, Jacob's Wife.

Alex was a passenger in the car.  The high-school sweethearts were driving in a Toyota Corolla, on their way back from seeing a movie that Friday night.

In the backseat was their 2-year-old daughter Scarlett.

"I look up, and see headlights, and had time to say Jacob, and then we hit," Ownby said.

After the crash, Jacob clinged to life, he even freed himself from the car and then laid on the ground in his final moments.

"He asked where we were and asked what happened, from there he started saying he couldn't breathe," said Ownby.

The loss is particularly hard on Lora Gay, Jacob's mother, who has lost both of her sons.  

"He loved his family," said Gay.  In 2009, Josh Ownby, 15, and his grandfather Wayne Gay, 68, died the result of an accidental drowning in Tellico Plains.

"I'm just thankful I have Scarlett, Alex and the baby," Gay said.

Amber Maddox was impaired while traveling at a high rate of speed, according to THP.

Her two children in the car were not wearing seatbelts.

Jacob Ownby's family can't begin to understand why Maddox was driving that night.

"If you're impaired, and on the other side of the road, that's an accident waiting to happen," Gay said.

Alex Ownby says she has no hard feelings for Maddox; but is puzzled she was allowed to drive.  

"Why would you put your babies in your vehicle?She took my husband's and my daughter's daddy, and my mother-in-law's baby," said Ownby.

Ownby is 21 weeks pregnant; her unborn child was not injured in the crash. 

"My baby's fine, he's kicking, the heartbeat is great," she said.

Ownby plans to the name the child  after his father.     

The silver lining she says that night she had a chance to tell Jacob how much she loved him.  

 "We had a really good night that night. I got to tell him I love him, not many people get a chance to do that, I'm blessed for that," said Ownby.  

Criminal charges are pending against Maddox, who is still in critical condition along with her 5 year old son at UT Medical Center.

The Ownby family is accepting donations to help pay for funeral costs. 

A bereavement fund set up at Athens Federal Community Bank.

There have been similar crashes on U.S. Highway 411 in recent months that caused a death or serious injuries to innocent persons.

In August 2012, Amelia Keown, 16, was killed by an impaired driver on Highway 411 in Maryville, when John Perkins, 44, of crossed all lanes of traffic and struck her vehicle head-on, killing Keown and himself.

In October 2012, Madisonville Daily News Publisher Dan Hall suffered disabling injuries when he was struck head-on by Nicholas Steffa, 42, an impaired driver traveling on Highway 411 in Greenback.

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