By Dave Russell
A man collapsed and died last Wednesday night an hour after he was a passenger in a car wreck on U.S. 441 near Sunset Farms Road in the Qualla community.
The call came in at 8:15 p.m., N.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott Smith said.
A Nissan Pathfinder driven by Sally Rogers, 43, of Cherokee was attempting to make a left turn out of a parking lot to travel south on U.S. 441. She pulled into the path of a 2014 Honda passenger car driven by Trevor Buchanan, 22, of Clayton, causing a crash, Smith said.
Rogers’ passenger, Jonathan Tahquette Jr., 36, of Cherokee, wasn’t hurt in the accident, but died at the scene later.
“They’d been standing there talking on the scene for about 45 minutes,” Smith said. “The roadway was being cleared and Mr. Tahquette collapsed. It was almost an hour after the impact. He had been drinking, but he was not driving.”
A Mountain Area Medical Airlift (MAMA) helicopter was called but turned away. Tahquette was pronounced dead before he could be transported, Smith said.
Rogers was taken via EMS to Harris Regional Hospital for minor injuries. Buchanan complained of head injuries and was taken to Harris in a personal vehicle. Both drivers were wearing seat belts, Smith said.
“Our completion of the investigation is depending on the autopsy report,” he said. “It’s still an ongoing investigation.”
No charges have been filed as of Tuesday night.
According to his obituary in the Cherokee One Feather, Tahquette had four children.
The Qualla Fire Department, Harris EMS and Trooper Tyson Crawford of the N.C. Highway Patrol responded.