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ECU student gets three to four years for fatal Surf City road collision

East Carolina University student Travis Coleman Luckinbill, 21, was sentenced to 14 to 26 months in the Department of Adult Correction after pleading guilty to Death by Vehicle. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Pender County Sheriff's Office)
East Carolina University student Travis Coleman Luckinbill, 21, was sentenced to 14 to 26 months in the Department of Adult Correction after pleading guilty to Death by Vehicle. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Pender County Sheriff’s Office)

BURGAW — An East Carolina University student was sentenced to three to four years in prison for a vehicular collision in Surf City last fall that killed a 28-year-old Sneads Ferry woman and severely injured her two-year-old son. Travis Coleman Luckinbill, 21, was sentenced on Wednesday by Judge John Nobles in the Pender County Superior Court, according to a release from District Attorney Ben David’s office. He pled guilty to the felonies of Death by Vehicle and Serious Injury by Vehicle.

Luckinbill, from Raleigh, was sentenced to 36 to 48 months in the Department of Adult Correction, followed by five years of supervised probation. Judge Nobles also issued a suspended sentence of 64 to 89 months, which would be enacted if the probation is revoked, with a special condition that he serve 22 months after an initial 14- to 26-month sentence.

On the morning of October 6, 2018, Robin E. Blankenship and her two-year-old son, Jaxon Blankenship, were driving westbound on Highway 50. A Jeep Wrangler driven by Luckinbill in the eastbound lane crossed the center line and struck the Blankenships’ vehicle head-on. Mrs. Blankenship, an administrator for the Mission BBQ restaurant, died at the scene. Her son sustained a skull fracture and was hospitalized in the weeks after the crash, but has since recovered.

Blood drawn from Luckinbill revealed the presence of THC, alprazolam, MDA, and MDMA, a Schedule I Controlled Substance. He has been in custody since the incident.

Mrs. Blankenship’s husband, Ryan Blankenship, testified at Wednesday’s proceedings.

According to a statement from the Surf City Police Department (SCPD) two days after the incident, Luckinbill was charged with possession of ecstasy (MDMA), marijuana, Xanax, and Adderall. He was also charged with an open container of a malt beverage, possession of a fraudulent identification card, and driving after consuming an impairing substance by a person less than 21 years of age.

His full list of charges included:

  • Felony Death by Motor Vehicle
  • Felony Serious Injury by Motor Vehicle
  • Driving While Impaired
  • Careless and Reckless Driving
  • Driving after Consuming an Impairing Substance by Person Less Than 21 Years of Age
  • Driving Left of Center
  • Possession of Unfortified Wine by 19/20-Year-Old
  • Open Container of Malt Beverage
  • Possession of Fraudulent Identification Card
  • Possession of Schedule I (MDMA/Ecstasy)
  • Possession of Schedule II (Adderall)
  • Possession of Schedule IV (Xanax)
  • Possession of Schedule VI (Marijuana)
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (2 counts)

Luckinbill was discharged from the New Hanover Regional Medical Center on October 8, transported to the Pender County Magistrate’s Office where he was placed under a $100,000 secured bond, then incarcerated in the Pender County Jail.

“Impairment is being deemed a contributing circumstance in the collision,” the statement noted at the time. 

The ensuing investigation was carried out by SCPD with assistance from N.C. State Highway Patrol, N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE), and the District Attorney’s Office.


 

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