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Alcohol a factor in crash that killed Lee-Davis students, survivor says

Posted at 6:36 PM, Apr 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-28 18:36:37-04

HANOVER, Va. – All occupants in the vehicle that struck a tree in Hanover  -- leaving four badly injured and two dead – had been drinking alcohol and smoking before the deadly accident, according to court documents.

Dylan Ballard and Elliot Hinton

Dylan Ballard and Elliot Hinton

A passenger told police that everyone had been drinking and smoking marijuana at the pond where they had gone for a swim after the NASCAR races.

Two passengers, 17-year-old Dylan Ballard and 22-year-old Elliott Hinton, both of Mechanicsville, died at the scene when the four-door Dodge Ram eastbound pick-up truck left the road and slammed into a tree on Cold Harbor Road.

The vehicle was traveling 10 mph over the posted speed limit; 55 in a 45mph zone, according to the documents.

First responders at the scene of the fatal crash.

First responders at the scene of the fatal crash.

Police also detected a strong odor coming from the vehicle and there were a large amount of beer cans found inside.

The search warrant of the vehicle indicated that deputies seized a smoking device, a bottle of Clear Eyes, a bottle of Egyptian Musk blunt powder air freshener, the speedometer instrument panel and a portion of the middle front seat belt.

Drunk driving was a topic of discussion as the community mourns  the loss of Ballard, a Lee Davis High School senior and football star, and Hinton, a Lee Davis graduate and Radford University student.

Ballard’s grandfather, Jim Blackwell, said he wants something positive to come from the tragedy. He spoke to CBS 6 from the visitation, as hundreds gathered, many who left sentiments as they signed Ballard's white car.

Dylan Ballard's car signed at his visitation.

Dylan Ballard's car signed at his visitation.

"God has given me the tools to stand up and try to help my family,” Blackwell said, from the visitation. "There has been so many prayers, over 700 emails I've got myself.  The Lee Davis student body has just been fantastic."

And Blackwell has a message for them.

“Try to take the keys away from somebody, if they're driving intoxicated,” he said. “And the second part, is get out of the car and call somebody."

Blackwell also said that Ballard's mom wants kids to learn from this experience.

"There's going to be a number passed out where these kids can call,” Blackwell explained.  “And then, someone will come and pick them up."

No charges have been filed at this point, but the accident remains under investigation.

The Ballard family has asked the public to not rush to judgment.

“Wherever there's a story, people are looking to find what happened,” Blackwell said. “ And honestly, we don't know what happened."