A drunk driver accused of killing two Tennessee parents on Christmas Day may have to pay child support for their now orphaned children.
Patricke Conley, 42, was arrested after he lost control of his vehicle after hitting a mailbox and swerved into the lane where Dustin and Brittany Dillard, both 33, were driving along with their three young children.
Conley’s arrest report alleged his car went up into the air before colliding with the Dillard’s Jeep Wagoneer SUV.
Police arrived and found the SUV flipped over with Dustin and Brittany pronounced dead at the scene and their sons seriously injured.
Conley was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and three counts of vehicular assault.
Several ‘Bud Light beer cans’ were recovered at the scene with Conley’s car smelling of alcohol, according to the arrest affidavit.
Tennessee Senate unanimously passed a law in April 2022 that forces drunk drivers in the state to make payments similar to child support if they cause the death of a parent.
The payments would be paid until the child is 18, while the amount would be decided by the court.
Police also charged Conley with traffic violations and open container violations. He was also charged with violating his probation after he was previously sentenced to eight years in jail on drug charges.
Conley appeared in court on December 29 in a wheelchair with a massive cut on his face. He pleaded not guilty.
Moments after the crash, two men ran to the Dillards’ flipped car after witnessing the scene from their home.
‘I heard an explosion outside,’ a witness named Charles told The National Desk. ‘My son, he came down to me and he said, ‘There [were] two vehicles that were flipped over on their top,’ and I went ahead and grabbed my jacket and I ran outside.’
Charles initially ran to comfort Conley, who was in distress, before he heard the boys in the Dillard’s car.
‘I had my handgun in my pocket, so I took the butt of it, and I smashed the window.’ he said.
He was unable to get the three boys out of the vehicle until the police arrived.
The three boys later identified as Preston, Pierce, and Pryor are improving and are expected to make a full recovery, according to Bradley County Schools.
The Senate bill to hold drunk drivers accountable was proposed by Cecilia Williams, whose son Cordell, 30, his fiancée Lacey Newton, 25, and their four-month-old son Cordell II, were killed by a drunk driver.
The crash left Cecilia’s grandsons Bentley, five, and Mason, three, orphaned.
Lawmakers named the bill Ethan, Haile, and Bentley’s Law after Cecilia’s grandson Bentley as well as the two children of Nicholas Galinger, a Tennessee police officer killed by a drunk driver in a hit-and-run.
The drunk driver’s blood alcohol level was allegedly double the legal limit when he hit the Williams’ car, which went off the road and struck a tree before catching fire.
Although the law will not benefit her and her grandsons personally she said she campaigned for its introduction to ‘help other people.
Tennessee Senate unanimously passed a law in April 2022 that forces drunk drivers in the state to make payments similar to child support if they cause the death of a parent
Brittany was a teacher at Walker Valley High School in Cleveland, Tennessee at the time of her death.
Her former students remembered her as more than a science teacher.
‘Mrs. Dillard was more than a teacher, she was a light at Walker Valley High School and a role model to so many,’ Brandon Akiona wrote in a tribute post.
‘I know now how lucky I was to be one of those few lucky students call Mrs. Dillard’s class my safe space freshman year.
‘I was lucky to sit on that old couch, talking everything from Newton’s laws to Enneagrams with her.
‘Lucky to answer questions of the day and spend all of class laughing about our crazy answers. Lucky to be in the room when she announced to our class that she was going to be a mom.’
Christin Childree added that she never had the privilege to sit in Brittany’s classroom but noticed her around campus.
‘I never had Mrs. Dillard as a teacher, but I always felt like I did,’ Childree wrote. ‘I saw her every day like she was.
‘Her energy was always the same, so cheerful and encouraging. She was everything a teacher needed to be and more.’