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Press Release

South Carolina Man Is Sentenced To More Than Three Years For Involuntary Manslaughter After Causing Car Accident On The Blue Ridge Parkway That Left One Passenger Dead

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray announced today that Zachary Jorden Childers, 22, of Gaffney, S.C., was sentenced to 40 months in prison and three years of supervised release for involuntary manslaughter, after causing a car accident on the Blue Ridge Parkway that left one passenger dead.  U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger presided over Childers’ sentencing.

Neal Labrie, Chief Ranger of the Blue Ridge Parkway, joins U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.

According to filed court documents and court proceedings, on September 1, 2018, Childers traveled with several other individuals to North Carolina, to drive his modified Subaru WRX on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Childers’ vehicle was one of four similar cars to make the trip.  Childers and his friends had modified their cars for both style and performance, and their intent was to test out their vehicles on the curvy, mountainous roads of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Childers had three passengers in his car, including the victim, a 16-year-old female.

According to court documents, both during the trip and while on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Childers operated his motor vehicle recklessly and well in excess of the posted legal speed limits, and passed other vehicles in no-passing zones. Court records show that at approximately 10:30 p.m., Childers was driving northbound on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Buncombe County, when he attempted to pass a vehicle driven by one of his friends while driving approximately 80 miles-per-hour in a 45 miles-per-hour zone.  As a result, Childers lost control of his vehicle, and his car skidded off the road, and flipped and rolled several times down a steep embankment. The victim was ejected from the vehicle and was later pronounced dead on the scene.  According to court records, Childers’ driver’s license has been previously revoked due to numerous traffic violations, including reckless driving.

On February 27, 2019, Childers pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.  Childers will report to the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole. 

The National Park Service led the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Don Gast, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville, prosecuted the case.

Updated September 19, 2019

Violent Crime