MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – UPDATED: A Collierville family is upset, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol is on damage control, after a trooper mistakenly said the driver in a deadly wreck Sunday was drinking in a preliminary crash report.
34-year-old Latricia Taylor was killed when investigators said she drove the wrong way on I-269 at the Shelby/Fayette County line and collided head on with a truck. Three children under the age of 10 also died.
Even though THP leaders said a trooper found bottles of alcohol inside Taylor’s car, a THP spokesperson said a trooper incorrectly marked the alcohol portion in the preliminary report form.
The news hit Taylor’s grieving family especially hard.
“It has salt on the wounds for them bashing her name and the lies,” Arnetha Barber, the aunt of Latricia Taylor, said.
Barber is mourning the loss of her niece, and defending her reputation.
“Right now, it’s hard on all of us,” Barber said.
Barber weighed in Wednesday afternoon, shortly after the Tennessee Highway Patrol admitted it incorrectly said Taylor was drinking in a preliminary crash report.
The wreck on I-269 killed Taylor and three children: Taylor’s son, niece, and nephew.
“She didn’t drink like that, maybe she had been to a restaurant and had a drink or something, but it’s not like she was somebody that drinks all the time,” Barber said.
“Our message is first of all, that we are sorry, for the loss of the family,” Sgt. Chris Richardson with the Tennessee Highway Patrol said.
Sgt. Richardson said a trooper on scene did find alcohol in Taylor’s car, but still made a mistake in marking ‘yes’ in the alcohol portion of the preliminary report.
“Even though we found evidence at the scene she possibly could have been drinking, we don’t make that assumption on a fatality,” Sgt. Richardson said. “We send that blood to the lab.”
The admission still hurt Taylor’s family, as they plan for a funeral for four Saturday and comfort Taylor’s oldest daughter.
“For people to blast this and this child see the news or hear it, we don’t that want her to be in her memory, it’s going to be enough that we are going to have to get counseling and stuff for her as it is,” Barber said.
The final report on the deadly wreck will include not only the TBI blood test results, but also the crash reconstruction.
Investigators said no one in the care was wearing a seat belt.