Alcohol found in Hamilton County train victims' blood tests

Alcohol found in Hamilton County train victims' blood tests

September 20th, 2011 by Beth Burger in News

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/Times Free Press.

Michael Hennen, 27, and Hannah Barnes, 19

Photo by WRCB-TV Channel 3 /Times Free Press.

Two people killed by train

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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