Two from family with Lexington ties die in Tennessee crash

girl was on the way home to lexington

kward1@herald-leader.comJuly 21, 2010 

Lillian Michele Clarke and her granddaughter Katherine Ranielle "Katie" Howard.

A Lexington girl and her grandmother died Tuesday in a four-vehicle crash in Tennessee.

The family's 2007 Mazda was stopped on northbound Interstate 75 near Clinton, Tenn., because of a wreck ahead. A tractor-trailer rear-ended them at 11:05 a.m., pushing their vehicle into the one ahead, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol in Knoxville.

Killed were Katherine Howard, 3, of Lexington, and Lillian Michelle Clarke, 52, of Miramar, Fla.

Clarke's son Aaron J. Howard; her husband, Peter Michael Clarke; and her mother, Viola Johnson, also were injured.

Clarke's cousin, Larry Johnson of Lexington, said the family was on its way to Lexington to participate in the House of God denomination's general convocation. Johnson said Peter Michael Clarke was to be ordained as an elder at the convocation.

Lillian Michelle Clarke lived in Lexington until six or seven years ago, Johnson said. He said she has a son who still lives here, and she was bringing Katherine, his daughter, back to him when the crash occurred.

Peter Michael Clarke, 47, of Miramar was listed in critical condition Tuesday night at University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

Johnson, 77, also of Florida, was listed in serious condition.

Aaron J. Howard, 24, also of Miramar, who was driving the Mazda, was treated and released Tuesday.

Drugs and alcohol are not thought to have been factors in the crash, but charges are pending against the driver of the tractor-trailer, Ben Edward Parrott, 61, of Jellico, Tenn., the Tennessee Highway Patrol said in a news release.

The highway patrol said Lillian Michelle Clarke was wearing a seat belt, and Katherine was in a child safety seat, although it was not installed properly.

One person was injured in the passenger vehicle ahead of theirs. That vehicle was pushed into a guardrail, and debris from it hit a fourth vehicle.

********* CORRECTION made July 22, 2010: We had been spelling Katherine Howard's first name with a "C" because of incorrect information from the Tennessee Highway Patrol. We've fixed it after e-mailing with family members.

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