Morristown mother charged with DUI after baby ejected from vehicle in crash

Grand Jury indicts Brittany Rankin after Cocke County crash

Brittany Rankin with her baby, Landon, two months after the crash.

MORRISTOWN (WATE) – A Cocke County Grand Jury indicted Brittany Rankin, 19, on vehicular assault, DUI, reckless endangerment, driving without a license and on lack of child restraint.

In an interview with WATE 6 On Your Side in June, Rankin said April 11, 2016 was the worst days of her life. The young mother over-corrected while negotiating a curve, drove off the side of the road and striking a cable barrier and rolling her vehicle on Interstate 40 in Cocke County, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Troopers said the baby was ejected through the back left window onto the pavement. They said the two-month-old’s body came to rest on the left shoulder.

At the time, Rankin told officers that she had buckled the infant in his harness before leaving her home about 20 minutes before the crash. An off-duty paramedic that was treating the infant said he overhead Rankin telling her passenger “we didn’t buckle him in.”

1996 Ford Explorer rolled after coming around a curve on I-40E (Courtesy: Newport Plain Talk)
1996 Ford Explorer rolled after coming around a curve on I-40E (Courtesy: Newport Plain Talk)

During an interview at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Rankin admitted she had smoked marijuana on the day of the crash, but said she had done no other drugs since she had taken an unprescribed Xanax five days before the crash. A blood alcohol test showed marijuana and clonazepam, a drug used to treat seizures, panic disorders and anxiety, in her system.

Months after the crash, Rankin said her baby is happy and healthy, surviving the accident with only broken bones. Her baby was placed in foster care after the crash and Rankin said she is taking parents and working to finish her GED.

Brittany Rankin with her baby, Landon, two months after the crash.
Brittany Rankin with her baby, Landon, two months after the crash.

“When you see your son laying there and not making a noise or anything, of course you’re going to think the worst. I don’t know what I would’ve done if anything worse would’ve happened,” said Rankin. “I know I messed up but I’m going to do what I have to to make everything right.”

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