CLINTON—A Marlow man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two charges of vehicular homicide in a fatal crash on Oliver Springs Highway in Marlow in November 2012, but it’s not clear if he might have had a heart attack, possibly before the crash.
Danny Lee Bean, 59, received an effective 10-year sentence for his guilty pleas in the head-on three-vehicle crash that killed Alberta Farrer, 56, and Pat Smith, 62.
Bean’s sentence was suspended, and he was placed on supervised probation. He had to surrender his driver’s license, and he can’t drive.
Bean had hydrocodone and alprazolam in his system, but he had prescriptions for those medicines at therapeutic levels, attorneys said at a plea agreement hearing in Anderson County Criminal Court in Clinton on Wednesday morning. Hydrocodone is a narcotic pain-reliever, and alprzazolam can be used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It’s not clear whether a doctor had advised Bean to not drive after taking either medication.
Before the plea, a question had been raised about whether Bean had experienced a heart attack around the time of the crash, possibly before it.
Seventh Judicial District Public Defender Tom Marshall said a cardiologist had found heart attack “markers,” and so did a consulting cardiologist at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, where Bean was taken, badly hurt, after the crash. But it wasn’t clear when the heart attack occurred.
The state said it couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether or not Bean had experienced a heart attack, and if he had, whether it occurred before or after the crash. The state was represented by prosecutor Melissa Denny.
Marshall said Bean’s plea was a best interest plea, meaning he didn’t admit to the facts but he did accept the agreement.
Bean will lose his driver’s license for 10 years, Marshall said.
The supervised probation means he has to report to his probation officer once a month, and the officer can make home visits. Bean will have to undergo drug and alcohol tests, and authorities will monitor what he is doing. Besides being unable to drive, Bean has to stay out of trouble, Marshall said.
The fatal three-vehicle crash was reported at 5:53 p.m. Thursday, November 1, 2012, near Marlow Circle and Anderson Memorial Gardens on Oliver Springs Highway, which is also known as State Route 61.
At the time, the Tennessee Highway Patrol said a Toyota 4Runner driven by Bean crossed the center line, causing a head-on collision with a Hyundai Elantra driven by Farrer. Smith was a passenger in the car.
A third vehicle, a Chevrolet pickup driven by Timothy Scott Gallaher, who was then 19, was behind Farrer, headed toward Oliver Springs. Gallaher braked and swerved left to avoid the crash, but the collision between Bean’s SUV and Farrer’s car pushed the two vehicles toward Gallaher’s truck and the pickup hit Farrer’s Elantra on the driver’s side, authorities said.
Farrer and Smith, her passenger, were flown by medical helicopter to the UT Medical Center, according to an accident report. Bean was taken by ambulance to the UT hospital. Gallaher was taken to a local hospital by a personal vehicle.
The crash was investigated by former THP Trooper Anthony Lay.
About five months after that crash, Bean was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in a single-vehicle crash near SR 61 and King Lane in Marlow. He was also charged with failure to exercise due care and driving on a suspended license.
In that crash, reported April 7, 2013, Bean’s silver 1998 Mazda Protege was found off the right side of the road in a ditch, according to affidavits filed by THP Sergeant Dennis Smith.
Bean said he was the driver, and he had run off the roadway, Smith said in the affidavits.
“While talking with Mr. Bean, I observed his speech to be very slow and slurred,” Smith said. “I further observed Mr. Bean to be unsteady on his feet.”
Bean said he had prescriptions for 10-milligram hydrocodone and one-milligram Xanax, and he had last taken medication at 8 a.m. that day. He had also taken his medications at about 11 p.m. the night before, Bean said.
Bean told Smith he had been critically injured in the fatal three-vehicle crash that killed Farrer and Smith in November 2012. The first crash was about 1.2 miles east of the second one.
“Based upon the observations of speech, eye conditions, and ability to keep balance, I administered a series of standardized field sobriety tests to Mr. Bean,” Smith said after the second crash. “The results indicted that his ability to operate a motor vehicle were impaired beyond legal limits, and his normal clearness of mind was altered.”
After Bean gave consent, a nurse at Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge took a blood sample from Bean, and it was sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for analysis, according to the affidavits.
At the time of the crash, Bean’s license was suspended for driver improvement disability, Smith said.
The Anderson County Grand Jury indicted Bean in the first crash, the fatal three-vehicle collision, on May 7, 2013. The specific charges were two counts of vehicular homicide by intoxication for the deaths of Farrer and Smith, two counts of vehicular homicide by recklessness, reckless endangerment, and failure to maintain a single lane.
Charges against Bean in the second crash, the single-vehicle collision, were bound over, or sent to, the grand jury after a preliminary hearing in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Clinton on November 18, 2013.
Bean was indicted in the second crash on March 4, 2014. The specific charges in that case were driving under the influence, failure to use due care, and driving on a suspended or revoked license.
The plea agreement hearing for Bean in Anderson County Criminal Court on Wednesday concerned both cases and a total of nine charges.
Bean pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide by recklessness, charges from the first crash, and driving under the influence (first offense), a charge from the second crash.
As part of the plea agreement, the two counts of vehicular homicide by intoxication were dismissed from the first case and so were the charges of reckless endangerment and failure to maintain a single lane.
Charges dismissed in the second case as part of the plea agreement were failure to use due care and driving on a suspended or revoked license.
Bean received a five-year sentence on each of the convictions of vehicular homicide by recklessness. The sentences are consecutive, meaning it’s an effective 10-year sentence. The sentences were suspended, with Bean placed on supervised probation. He cannot operate a motor vehicle, and he has to attend a victim impact panel. Bean also has to pay a $500 fine and court costs, according to the judgement filed in Anderson County Criminal Court.
For the DUI conviction, Bean received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in the county jail with credit for time served and four days to be served. He will be placed on supervised probation. That sentence is to run concurrently, or at the same time, as one of the vehicular homicide sentences.
Bean has to obtain an alcohol and drug assessment, complete any and all recommendations made in the assessment, submit to random drug and alcohol screens, and successfully complete DUI school. His driver’s license will be revoked, according to the second judgement filed in Anderson Count Criminal Court.
Bean has to report back to court on December 15 to provide a status update on his payment of court costs.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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