Teen injured in crash before graduation, dies 2 days later; Woman charged

PORTLAND, Tenn. (WKRN) – A woman was arrested and charged after a high school senior died after a serious crash in Portland, Tennessee.

Nick Townsend was a passenger in a car with his girlfriend and her mother on Highway 52 at College Street when it was struck by a suspected drunk driver Friday night. They had just finished volunteering at a Special Olympics event.

Nick Townsend
Nick Townsend, right (Courtesy: GoFundMe.com)

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said Monday the suspected drunk driver steered across the solid yellow line and hit Townsend’s car head-on, causing it to turn onto its side.

According to the Portland Fire Department, Townsend, his girlfriend, and her mother all had to be extricated from the car.

Townsend, a 17-year-old senior at Portland High School, was transported to TriStar Skyline Medical Center and passed away two days later on Sunday.

His father, Trew Quackenbush, told News 2 they found recipients for all of his organs.

The other two passengers were treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and released.

Laura Beasley
Laura Beasley

Townsend’s class graduated Saturday night, where his diploma was accepted by his stepbrother and friend on his behalf.

According to Portland High’s athletic website, he was a midfielder for the soccer team. He planned to join the U.S. Army after high school and return home to Portland to become a police officer.

And Monday night, the Portland police chief told News 2 they made Townsend an honorary police officer at the city council meeting.

An official with Sumner County Schools said extra staff will be available at the school for the remainder of the week to provide grief counseling to staff and students.

Students at Portland High School are set to meet for a vigil to remember Townsend Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. at the school.

Laura Beasley of Springfield, the suspected drunk driver, was charged with vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular assault, DUI with a child enhancement and reckless endangerment. Police said at the time of the crash she had a 2-year-old child in the car with her.

A GoFundMe account was set up to help the family with medical bills and burial expenses. Click here to donate.

Townsend will be laid to rest Thursday. Visitation begins at 2 p.m. at Portland Funeral Chapel with the burial service following at Maple Hill Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Wounded Warriors Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675.

This is the second deadly crash that has taken the lives of Portland students in the past year. Two teenagers were killed and two were injured last November on Highway 109.


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