published Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Alcohol found in Hamilton County train victims' blood tests

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office investigators comb the site where two people were struck and killed by a train near Sale Creek, Tenn.
Hamilton County Sheriff's Office investigators comb the site where two people were struck and killed by a train near Sale Creek, Tenn.
Photo by Tracey Trumbull /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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Toxicology results for a man and woman struck and killed by a train on Aug. 22 show both were near the legal blood alcohol limit for drunken driving, according to reports released Monday afternoon.

There were no drugs present in either 19-year-old Hannah Barnes' or 27-year-old Michael Hennen's bloodstream when they were killed upon impact at a railroad crossing in Sale Creek, the reports state.

Barnes' blood alcohol level was at 0.07 and Hennen's blood alcohol level was at 0.086, according to the reports. The legal limit for drunken driving is 0.08.

Family members for both Hennen and Barnes did not return calls for comment.

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office ruled the deaths accidental and kept the case open pending the toxicology results.

Barnes and Hennen had a couple of beers leading up to the accident, according to newspaper archives. A couple of cans were found near the tracks and reportedly came from a cooler near the residence.

Authorities reviewed footage from Norfolk Southern Railway that showed Hennen and Barnes were embracing while lying on a private railroad crossing at the McDonald Farm, which is owned by members of Hennen's family. They never moved as the 12-car train approached at 45 mph, the footage showed.

Members of the train's crew noticed them about three to five seconds before striking them, according to newspaper archives.

Hennen, who worked as manager at his family's restaurant, Hennen's, had taken Barnes, a hostess and waitress there, to his family's farm after finishing work Sunday night, authorities said.

Hennen's great-grandfather, Roy McDonald, founded the Chattanooga Free Press. Barnes was the granddaughter of Marion Barnes, who was the president of Covenant College from 1965 to 1978.

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I am concerned that the media is witch hunting in the bushes surrounding the double fatality in the area. Neither of the kids were driving so why does their BA need to be broadcast? A BA reading is subjective when applied to driving situations and has no merit when falsely applied to two people who lost their lives. How about those of you in the media showing compassion to the families?

September 20, 2011 at 12:34 a.m.
rolando said...

Ah. Two new names appearing on this thread.

For Ary, this has been a high public interest case as you can see by the "related articles" section below. I agree with your BA comment; one beer can raise the BA to "near the legal BA limit".

For Funker -- That one pretty well hits the bottom even for this thread. Congrats.

And for Ms Burger and the other reporters who worked this issue for the TFP, thanks for the [hopefully] final report on this tragedy.

At least they were in each others arms at the end. Not that bad a way to go, all things considered.

May the families find closure.


September 20, 2011 at 3:39 a.m.
WEBMAN said...

This is not news.Will this "new" information help all that are involved to heal from this tragedy.Let it go.

September 20, 2011 at 7:06 a.m.
cannonball said...

I don't believe they laid down on a dirty nasty railroad track covered with sharped edge rocks the size of a golf ball when there were miles of soft grassy areas all around. I can't believe the cops have closed the books on this one. A killer is on the loose.

September 20, 2011 at 7:53 a.m.
mdk515 said...

i have a problem with this article announcing the blood alcohol level as though it was a factor. If i have one drink i am no where near drunk but i am near the limit. Depending on your weight that is all it takes is one drink, but that in no way made them drunk. Lets have some responsible reporting here.

September 20, 2011 at 8:37 a.m.
rolando said...

The BAC is a factor, mdk, if only because alcohol is ruled out as a possible cause. Further, there were no drugs found in either victim's blood, ruling out that factor. Finally, the couple died on the tracks, not somewhere else and there was no evidence of foul play. [See the TFP archives.]

Let this one go. Further pursuit will accomplish nothing except to perhaps sully the reputation of the dead...which is a petty thing to do.

September 20, 2011 at 9:01 a.m.
GADawgs423 said...

Some of these comments here are about ignorant. What does BAC have to do with this murder? A. She was 19... underage. B. Who goes and randomly lays on a railroad track for "romance" or unless forced to. C. The families requested a BAC among various other tests solely on her. She had a boyfriend of three years, of which I hope he and her family can find closure. The truth will come out eventually to what really happened. This is too skeptical and bizarre to how the police say how it all went down. Romeo and Juliet style death, just because? I think not.

September 20, 2011 at 9:01 a.m.
James101 said...

I smell Cover - Up.... How are two people that " in my opinion " probably have drinked before going to get intoxicated off of two beers.. I mean the police and ppl close to them said there was only two beer cans taken from the Cooler and lying on the tracks. So thats means each one had one beer a piece, theres no way that makes you intoxicated... Come on media , police and others - if your going to keep on with this story then give us the REAL truths behind it...

September 20, 2011 at 10:26 a.m.
concerned123 said...

Where has Norfolk Southern's initial report gone in this entire case? As I recall, the PR lady for NS railroads said they were "standing up". Oh how that conflicts with what the Chattanooga Police Department has reported. Also, alcohol in the system at such a small amount that it would be legal to drive proves nothing. How about somebody do some investigative reporting rather than just copying and pasting what the Chattanooga PD said in their report. That is unless the Times Free Press put their most incompetent writer (which appears to be the case) on this story....

September 20, 2011 at 10:52 a.m.
Salsa said...

Pay attention concerned 123. Chattanooga Police are not involved in this case.

September 20, 2011 at 11:04 a.m.
concerned123 said...

excuse me Salsa, the Hamilton County Sheriff Office.... I hope my point was not lost in the semantics

September 20, 2011 at 11:18 a.m.
01centare said...

Let this one go. Further pursuit will accomplish nothing except to perhaps sully the reputation of the dead

rolando, I can't begin to count the many times you and your gangster have disrespected and sullied the names of the dead when they were some poor joe from the other side of the tracks.

If the coroner only tested for illegal drugs in the system, then any legal drugs would not have shown up. Either that or the coroner was also trying to preserve the family names and reputation. After all, at least one of the two is from prominent families in the area that goes back well over a century.

September 20, 2011 at 11:20 a.m.
James101 said...

This is the part thats so laughable.. All these people get mad when people raise questions or think theres more to the story then they are letting out but thats exactly whats happening here.. I mean the sherrif , paper and other media said " There was a Cooler with 3 bottles of beer in it and two were missing ".. Then it was reported that " The two beers were found near the Railroad Track ".. So we are too believe a 18 yr old and a 28 yr old could only drink one beer a piece before getting hammered.. This is why ppl get upset or get wrapped up in the sory because if certain people or outlets arent going to report the WHOLE story then dont report it at all.. It smells like a Coverup from a Mile Away and think these " Recent findings or evidence " points to that even more now..

September 20, 2011 at 1:19 p.m.
rolando said...

1cent -- I have known who the victims were since the TFP published their names. So what?

My original posts stand. I don't care who people are, how wealthy or influential they are or aren't, or their standing in society. They were and always will be "some poor joe" to me...and treated equally, regardless of which "side of the tracks" they were from.

Once an investigation is wrapped and the findings released, it is time to move on and let the dead lie. Nothing else will be forthcoming.

Exactly what do you expect legal drugs in blood to show? That they maybe got drowsy?

September 20, 2011 at 2:11 p.m.
rolando said...

James, you and concerned seem to have gotten it into your heads that the two victims were drunk. Clue: They weren't, not according to their BAC. They weren't even impaired.

Do you have further credible and verifiable information contrary to that finding? If so, you should pass it to the sheriff's office...

September 20, 2011 at 2:24 p.m.
James101 said...

Im sorry for using the word " Drunk " , i should have said that the one beer a piece made them incapable of being able to move or know where they were at... Like i said though , one beer is not going to make a person that " out of it " , theres more to the story and we DEMAND the Truth and not the CoverUps...

September 20, 2011 at 2:39 p.m.
concerned123 said...

i never said anyone was drunk.... I said that such a small amount of alcohol in your system that is even legal to drive proves nothing.

"alcohol in the system at such a small amount that it would be legal to drive proves nothing." - This is what i said.

September 20, 2011 at 3:10 p.m.
rolando said...

You are correct, beer will not incapacitate a person, although it will relax them a bit, especially smaller people. It is a weight-related thing.

I was waiting for the forensics results before closing. They are in.

So what do you think happened? What are you looking for? When will enough be enough? Why do you think the Truth is being hidden?

September 20, 2011 at 3:12 p.m.
rolando said...

You are right, concerned, you didn't use the word "drunk". But the BAC does prove proves that alcohol was not a factor in the deaths.

September 20, 2011 at 3:21 p.m.
James101 said...

So , lets get this right - The one beer didnt kill them , there were no drugs ( that we know of in their systems ) that killed them - Then what killed them??.. Theres NO way they just fell asleep on a track and couldnt hear the train coming either from tracks vibrating or just the noise one makes coming down the rails.. Unless you were on a bender and been up 5 days theres no way anybod is going to stay asleep during all that noise.. So it drives me crazy that the paper and news reports on this but then falls for the BS answer they and we get from the authoritys in the matter.. I mean this makes as much sense as the woman disappearing on the mountain awhile back.. All i gotta say is you go back to the very beg and read the outlines of what police say happen , watch their press confrence then read the articles on here and the and things dont add up.. Theres pieces missing so how can they just rush to say the Cause of Death was " Tired ".. In one of the post above the person said Prominent names are involved in the story and that right there is why i believe we are not getting everything.. You have people or agencys or etc thinking with all the facts not coming out it will spare him and her and their image when in reality until all the facts do come out it makes them and the situations look worse.. I would have more respect and not judge somebody or bodys if the truth was just said then if coverups or important info was left out..

September 20, 2011 at 3:35 p.m.
GADawgs423 said...

I know the families of both victims personally, obviously the name Hennen in this town is very well known from Yesterday's, to the other Hennen brother's success, and to the most relevant Hennen's downtown. Hannah's family is known in Chattanooga as well. But what does the family of a young 19 year old who had a long-term boyfriend have to cover up? Underage drinking? No, it's apparent where the alcohol came from. What about the 27 year old male, who obviously supplied the alcohol on his families farm? A son, of a distinguished local businessman. There is foul-play involved. Weather or not, ronaldo, you want to admit it, this story desires the entire truth, rather than a cover-up. Yes, they are laid to rest, and may they rest in peace, but people desire to know what happened the morning of August 22nd. As James is saying, nothing does add up different sources have different very vague data.

September 20, 2011 at 3:57 p.m.
macropetala8 said...

"Theres NO way they just fell asleep on a track and couldnt hear the train coming either from tracks vibrating or just the noise one makes coming down the rails.."

James101, I think most will agree with you. I've lived near railroad tracks most all my life. 2 to 3 blocks away one can feel the vibrations from the metal wheels rubbing against tracks. Not to mention the high screeching noise those wheels make when touching the tracks. Unless an individual is passed out stone cold or already dead it would be near impossible to not feel or hear something. Even a total deaf person would feel the vibrations.

September 20, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.
rolando said...

The sheriff's office always needs volunteer help -- you guys should apply since you have all the questions...but none of the answers.

Nor will you ever have them because you will refuse to accept any answer, no matter how relevant, no matter how logical, no matter how well put together.

You don't want answers, you want conspiracies. You want the guy on the grassy knoll...the man who doesn't exist.

Two young, healthy people worked a long night shift, locked up and stopped nearby to relax, maybe had a beer, then left and picked up some snacks, a swimsuit, and a six-pack...finally ending up on a family farm for a swim. At 6AMish the next morning they were laying on a railroad crossing and were hit by a train while embracing.

That much we know. The rest is speculation, and nothing but.

Personally, I sincerely hope the two of them had the best sex of their lives, repeatedly, and slept the good sleep of the physically exhausted and mentally sated, embracing each other, right up to the end. God bless them and keep them forever.

September 20, 2011 at 9:13 p.m.
rolando said...

GAD..."nothing does add up different sources have different very vague data."

You haven't interviewed many eyewitnesses to a tragedy, have you?

James hasn't either if he believes all those sources spoke Gospel.

Different people see and hear different things, sometimes radically different.

Like the PR lady who saw "two people standing on the tracks embracing" after viewing the RR video. A new review showed two people laying on the track embracing. That is radically different testimony with many overtones.

September 20, 2011 at 9:19 p.m.
James101 said...

"Two young, healthy people worked a long night shift, locked up and stopped nearby to relax, maybe had a beer, then left and picked up some snacks, a swimsuit, and a six-pack...finally ending up on a family farm for a swim"

Rolando , thats statement you made right there is Speculative as well and False.. How do we know they were both healthy?.. And yes they closed the restraunt but how do we know they worked a LONG shift? And the media , sherrif or papers never mentioned them picking up a Six pack, so wheres this info coming from? And if they had where were tthe cans or bottles because the only two that were found were from the cooler already at the Farm that the Family member said was in there.. And the swimsuit was in a one piecde or string bikini?.. And they NEVER went for the swim..

September 20, 2011 at 9:37 p.m.
rolando said...

That paraphrased and condensed info was printed in the only source of info...other than empirical evidence and a bit of thought on the matter. Healthy? Of course. If memory serves, non-healthy people cannot work in a restaurant. Have you ever known a short or untiring night shift when you are on your feet the whole time?

You are citing information not included in the TFP and of unknown reliability. Was it in a police report? Where? [Cites, please].

As I said, you are searching for a conspiracy...when one doesn't exist. Have fun with it.

September 20, 2011 at 9:51 p.m.
James101 said...

Ive actually worked in restraunts so yes i know ALL about them and know theres all kinds of shifts and jobs.. And sometimes you go in and work for a few hrs and sometimes you work doubles.. And you never answered the questions , how do you know they were healthy? I mean were you their doctor?.. Where is this six pack you mention of?.. Did she really buy a string bikini?.. And im not citing info , you were the one who said all of that.. But we all know theres no way they just have one or two beers in their system and that made them droggy enough to sleep through a train coming down the tracks or being able to move.. All of us will quit with the wuestions once the missing pieces are filled in and they wanna tell us the TRUTH and the WHOLE TRUTH..

September 20, 2011 at 10:04 p.m.
James101 said...

And who ever said they had or were having sex? Dont let the Pitch Fork ppl hear you speak of them like that or they will come after you.. Because she would NEVER cheat on her boyfriend , or at least thats what her friends say.. But i think any person in reality knows a guy ten years older thats buying her drinks and hanging out at all hours probably on numerous occasions is doing more then talking.. Plus one person that said to know the family in an old post and diffrent article on here said that she was lying on track in just like a belly shirt and a thong.. ( No , i dont know if thats true but im just repeating what was said on early post ) so dont go getting mad at me for what others are saying or speculating..

September 20, 2011 at 10:09 p.m.
hixsondave said...

This being TFP front page news says a lot about the quality of our local paper. It's a shame.

September 21, 2011 at 9:07 a.m.
BOOBOO99 said...

Its simple. Dont Drink!!!! Dont smoke!!! Dont do drugs. and might live longer.

September 21, 2011 at 9:21 a.m.
James101 said...

And dont have sex or " embracing " on Rail Road Tracks...

September 24, 2011 at 9:24 p.m.
rolando said...

Who or what is the "Pitch Fork ppi[ or ppl]", James?

And why would they be "after" anyone?

Personally, I don't give a flyin' F whether your questions are ever answered or not. You have already demonstrated your lack of reading ability and/or reading comprehension so I won't waste my time or yours by answering you any further.

You and the rest of the eight-balls remaining [not everyone] can enjoy yourselves on someone else's dime.

I will give you the last word...

September 24, 2011 at 9:30 p.m.
James101 said...

The Pitch Fork ppl are the MOB that were after ppl that had diffrent opinions on these two or what might have led to their death.. Its just sad they had to commit suicide like they did..

September 25, 2011 at 12:35 a.m.
woodlase said...

The details released that stated Heather suffered severe facial fractures and Michael was dragged and partially dismembered. proves two things stated by the Sheriff's Dept. The pilot on the front of a diesel locomotive is at the height above the rails which would have made contact with Ms. Barnes's skull. The same pilot would have flipped Michaels body forward in a sprawled fashion which explains wheel contact on his torso/limbs. The pilot is angled to push objects off the tracks if there is enough height to the object. Two people lying in an embrace, with the female victim on top explains precisely what is entailed in the physical evidence. BTW, lying between the rails on a paved section of the track,the sound and vibrations of the locomotive would be minimal and wouldn't be detected by the two tired/deep asleep victims. I see no foul play here, just a very careless judgement error on their part.

March 20, 2012 at 5:56 p.m.
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