Vehicular Homicide Charge Dismissed In Chattanooga Death Of Prominent Knoxville Architect After TBI Lab Mixup

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A vehicular homicide charge involving the death of a prominent Knoxville architect on a Chattanooga roadway has been dismissed after a TBI lab mixup.

Dale Ferrell, 21, of Steen, Miss., had also been charged with DUI after his Toyota struck a motorcycle driven by 58-year-old Ed Bankston on I-75 near Lee Highway in March.

The two indictments were returned after a report from the TBI Crime Lab listed the blood-alcohol level of Ferrell at 0.24 - or "triple drunk" under the state standard of .08.

However, attorney Jerry Summers had the blood tested at an independent lab and it came back .01 - well below the drunk level.

DUI Prosecutor Kate Lavery said, based on that new evidence, both charges were dismissed.

She said Ferrell admitted speeding and being inattentive and distracted, but she indicated it is unlikely that he will face additional charges.

The two charges have already been expunged.

Prosecutor Lavery said the Ferrell blood was mixed up with that of another individual. She said the TBI lab is retesting all of the blood sampled by the agent involved, Kyle Bayer, but it is expected that this was the only mix-up.

Kristin Helm of the TBI said, "Bayer was suspended pending an internal investigation. We are waiting for the sample to be resubmitted to us to retest as part of our investigation. We do believe that it is an isolated incident and that if the established protocol for testing the samples had been followed, an error could not have occurred."

The incident happened on a Saturday at approximately 1:58 p.m. Chattanooga Police responded to a traffic crash in the 900 block of I-75.

Police said, "Evidence at the scene and witness statements found that a motorcycle driven by Mr. Bankston was southbound on the inside lane of traffic. A Toyota driven by Dale Ferrell was also in the inside lane and struck the rear of Mr. Bankston’s motorcycle causing him to lose control. Mr. Bankston was killed as a result of his injuries from the crash."

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