By Dave Russell


A wreck on U.S. 441 last Wednesday left a local woman dead and sent two people to area hospitals.

At about 7:30 p.m., a two-car wreck on U.S. 441 near Camp Creek Road claimed the life of Sylva resident Malyn Kelcy Crowe, 26, and severely injured two others.

Crowe was traveling south in a 2017 Kia when she drifted left across the center turn lane into the right northbound lane and crashed head-on into a 2019 Honda, Sgt. Scott Smith of the N.C. Highway Patrol said.

Crowe worked at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.

“She was a good young lady who worked a lot, probably working more than she should be and we’re probably leaning towards her working double shifts as a contributing factor,” Smith said. “Her getting off work, and we think she fell asleep. There was no input into the car, no change of speed, it just slowly veers into the curve, going all the way across the four lanes.”

The Honda was driven by Yuchao Ren, 50, of Monterey Park, California, with a passenger, Wei Xie, 45, also of Monterey Park. The pair’s relationship was not recorded in the accident report. Monterey Park is adjacent to East Los Angeles, California.

A Mountain Area Medical Airlift helicopter transported Ren and Xie to Mission Hospital in Asheville.

Crowe was not wearing a seatbelt at the time.

Traffic was snarled about 45 minutes, Smith said.

Qualla Fire Department, Harris EMS and the N.C. Highway Patrol responded, Smith said.