Truck Driver In Ooltewah Wreck That Claimed 6 Lives Sentenced To 55 Years In Prison

Monday, March 12, 2018
Benjamin Brewer makes statement
Benjamin Brewer makes statement

A truck driver convicted in the death of six people at the Ooltewah exit of I-75 has been sentenced to serve 55 years in state prison. 

Criminal Court Judge Don Poole handed the sentence to 42-year-old Benjamin Scott Brewer. 

He gave him 11 years on each of six vehicular homicide cases and ran five of the cases consecutively. The range was 8-12 years for vehicular homicide. 

Brewer, of London, Ky., was also sentenced to four years on each of four convictions of reckless aggravated assault involving four people who were injured in the 2015 crash. Those sentences are concurrent. 

He has no prior criminal convictions so is a Range One Offender who is eligible for parole consideration after serving 30 percent of the sentence.

Brewer made a statement, saying he is remorseful and prays several times each day for the victims' families. 

He said, "I am truly sorry from the bottom of my heart. There are now words to express my sorrow."

Brewer, who has an eight-year-old daughter, said he prays for the families two or three times a day. He said he is especially remorseful for the two young girls who died along with their mother and grandmother in a car that caught fire.

He said of the families, "I hope they will accept my deepest apology."

Brewer said he has asked God for forgiveness, and he said he was responsible for taking the lives and inflicting injuries on others.

Judge Poole called it "an unbelievably horrible wreck" and said it was testified that Brewer was driving unsafely on I-75 in Georgia before entering Tennessee. He said there was a half-mile sight distance looking toward where a line of vehicles were stopped for a construction project. 

He said Brewer did not apply the brakes at any point and left a 453-foot trail of "destruction."

Judge Poole said he read all of the numerous victim impact statements that were submitted.

Killed were well-known Cleveland musician Brian Gallaher and Dalton State assistant director of residential life Jason Ramos. Also killed were Tiffany Watts, her mother Sandra Anderson, and daughters Kelsie and Savannah.

A representative of state probation said Brewer has an active warrant from Wisconsin on a drug charge and a prior meth count in Kentucky that was dismissed.

He said he suffers from depression and anxiety. Brewer declined to answer questions relating to prior drug use based on advice of his attorneys.

He worked for seven years with a car dealership, then was in construction and drover for Ryder before joining Cool Runnings just prior to the deadly wreck.

District Attorney General Neal Pinkston had asked for consecutive sentences, while Jay Underwood of the public defender's office argued against any consecutive terms. He said it was "not an intentional act, but a reckless accident."

He said of Brewer, "He's never tried to hurt anybody."

Etta Faye Brewer, aunt of the defendant, said, "I'm proud to say that Ben Brewer is my nephew." She said he was raised in a good home, attended church and played Little League baseball.

She described him as quiet with "a good heart."

The aunt said Brewer is "a good man."

She said she prays for him as well as the victims.

Lt. John Harmon of the Highway Patrol said it was found that Brewer was falsifying his driver logs.

He said, counting the Ooltewah crash, in the last two and a half years there have been five wrecks involving commercial vehicles within 50 miles of Chattanooga that have claimed 13 lives. He said that does not count the Woodmore bus wreck.


Tennessee Attorney General Intervenes In Opiod Lawsuits; Says State, Not District Attorneys, Should Take The Lead

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III has filed motions to intervene in three lawsuits brought by district attorneys general against several opioid manufacturers and health care providers.    He said, "This Office moved to intervene to protect the interests of the entire state and its citizens while fulfilling our statutory duty to direct the opioid ... (click for more)

Corker Applauds Senate Passage Of Legislation For Justice For Victims Of Online Sex Trafficking

U.S. Senator Bob Corker Wednesday applauded Senate passage of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (H.R.1865), which the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed at the end of February. The narrowly-crafted legislation will target online sex trafficking by providing victims the opportunity to seek justice against websites, such as, ... (click for more)

Avoid Underage Drinking And Other Prom Drama

My high school prom took a dramatic turn when two guys got their tuxedo jackets mixed up. One of them belonged to my date, who kindly offered to keep my wallet in his pocket. That’s the jacket another young man mistakenly grabbed off the back of a chair before heading to an underage drinking party that got shut down by police well after midnight—as kids scattered in every direction.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Sheriff’s Request

Jim Hammond will talk to members of the Hamilton County School Board on Thursday afternoon and, just like any police officer in the United States, he will request that everybody “stay in their own lane.” Some school board members tend to believe they need to help decide the best methods of protecting our children. They believe this is one of the things they were elected to do in ... (click for more)

Keiser, Wigg Power Ooltewah Past East Hamilton, 9-5, in 5-3A Baseball

Frustrated by an early season hitting slump, Ooltewah left-fielder Payton Keiser broke loose with four hits, including a clutch three-run triple in a five-run seventh inning, and drove in five runs as the Owls beat rival East Hamilton, 9-5, Tuesday in District 5-3A action in horrible weather for baseball. Keiser had run-scoring singles in the second and fourth innings and ... (click for more)

Cleveland Rally Tops Walker Valley, 4-1

CHARLESTON, Tenn – Cleveland pitching ace Camden Sewell is used to the gaudy individual numbers and he rarely disappoints. Unfortunately, he has walked off the mound a few too many times in tough battles such as the one with Walker Valley  Tuesday  night without the one number he most cherishes.   That number being the one you put in the win column. ... (click for more)