A Charles County man whose speeding car crossed the center line and slammed into another vehicle May 9, killing him and five other people, had a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit prohibiting driving while intoxicated, police said yesterday.
Tests done on the body of Ernest Lee Knight, 27, of Nanjemoy showed that his blood alcohol level was .33, said Capt. Gary Draheim of the Charles County Sheriff's Department. Under Maryland law, a motorist can be charged with driving while intoxicated if tests indicate a blood alcohol level of .10 or above. FTC People with readings of .07 or above can be cited for driving while under the influence.
Deputy Sheriff Chris M. Becker, who investigated the accident that occurred on Route 6 near Welcome, said it happened when Mr. Knight's unregistered and uninsured 1978 Cadillac, traveling about 80 mph, crossed the center line and slammed head-on into another car.
In addition to Mr. Knight, Tresa Mae Keys, 30, her boyfriend, Glenn Carroll, 35, their children Glynielle Carroll, 2, Sharnelle T. Carroll, 7, and Glenn Carroll's nephew, James D. Carroll, 8, died in the crash. Three other people were injured.
Deputy Sheriff Becker said he did not know whether Mr. Knight intentionally crossed the center line, or whether he was conscious at the time of the crash.
"If I ever get to that level [of intoxication], it will be because someone was pouring it into me," he said. "There's no way I could be awake. Of course other people handle it differently."
Deputy Sheriff Becker also said Mr. Knight's wife told police that her husband had called her from La Plata, where he was employed at a lumber yard, and that they had argued. The accident occurred about halfway between La Plata and Nanjemoy.
At least two motorists reported seeing Mr. Knight's car on the wrong side of the road, while another car was sideswiped and forced off the road, said Deputy Sheriff Becker.
At the time of the accident, Mr. Knight did not have a Maryland driver's license and had had his driving privileges suspended in his native Virginia.
Mr. Knight had lived in the Charles County area for about eight years. The sheriff's office had a file on the Knight couple because several calls for assistance had been made from their home, the deputy sheriff said.
Had Mr. Knight survived, he would have been charged with vehicular manslaughter, said Deputy Sheriff Becker.