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Driver in Highway 13 wreck was in previous deadly crash

Ray Howze , Published 2:15 p.m. CT Oct. 16, 2015 | Updated 3:00 p.m. CT Oct. 16, 2015


CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — The driver who caused this week's fatal wreck on Highway 13 was involved in another deadly accident in 2007.  According to an accident report from the Indiana State Police, Benjamin R. Franklin, then 28, was heading west on State Road 64 near Princeton, Indiana, on March 20, 2007, when his truck crossed over the center line, hit three cars and killed the passenger riding with him.


Monday's crash near Deep Cut Road on Highway 13 south of Erin in Houston County followed a similar pattern: Franklin was heading south when his truck crossed into oncoming traffic and struck another vehicle.  But this time, it wasn't his passenger who died. This wreck killed a couple and their newborn baby who were in the car Franklin hit.

William D. Griggs, 20, of Waverly, 19-year-old Kassidy T. Leonard of Clarksville and 11-day-old Kimberlynn Griggs were pronounced dead at the scene.

Houston County family killed in crash remembered

In the 2007 wreck, the accident report says Franklin "fell asleep and began to cross the center line." Franklin's truck hit the left side of the first vehicle traveling in the same direction. It then struck another vehicle's left side before fully crossing into oncoming traffic and colliding head-on with a fourth vehicle.

Frankin's passenger, Matthew Beasley, 29, of Camden, Tenn., was killed. Neither Franklin nor Beasley were wearing seat belts.

Gina Beasley, Matthew Beasley's stepmother, said when she learned Franklin was involved in Monday's wreck, she wanted to get the word out that this wasn't the first time.

"I don’t have hard feelings toward Benjamin, but I want to take an active role in him not driving anymore," Beasley said. "If it’s something medical, it needs to be addressed."

Gina Beasley, who lives in Camden, said her stepson and Franklin had a job in Indiana painting water towers at the time. The accident happened on their way to work at about 6:45 a.m.

History of other arrests

Franklin, now 37, has a history of arrests in Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

His most recent charge was for driving on a suspended license on June 20, 2013. Franklin was also cited that year for a charge of theft under $500 on Feb. 24 and failure to appear on Dec. 17.

He was also cited by the New Johnsonville Police Department for driving on a revoked or suspended license on July 4, 2012. The New Johnsonville police cited Franklin for the same charge in 1999.

Other charges dating back to 1998 include domestic assault, assault and simple possession.

Young couple, newborn identified in deadly Highway 13 crash

As of Thursday, Franklin was still in a Nashville hospital. According to the Houston County Sheriff's Office, there is a warrant out for his arrest on charges of vehicular homicide.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating the accident. Lt. Bill Miller with THP did not elaborate on any details, citing the ongoing investigation.

According to an analysis from THP, there have been five fatalities from four crashes on Highway 13 between Cunningham and Waverly since 2012, not including last week's crash. Two were single-vehicle accidents, one was a head-on collision and another struck the side of another vehicle.


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