More charges in crash that paralyzed Montreat coach

Abigail Margulis

ASHEVILLE - A man who police say was driving 120 mph in Black Mountain Feb. 27 when he struck a college running coach's vehicle and nearly killed him has been charged with a felony count of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, according to arrest warrants.

Crews respond to a collision on Feb. 27 at the intersection of State Street and N.C. 9 involving five cars and resulting in damage to nearby buildings.
Crews respond to a collision on Feb. 27 at the intersection of State Street and N.C. 9 involving five cars and resulting in damage to nearby buildings.

Kyle Donte Carney, 31, of Winston-Salem, was scheduled to appear in Buncombe County District Court on three different days during the first week of May after being charged with one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and three misdemeanor counts of assault with a deadly weapon, warrants state.

He has also been charged with a traffic violation of hit and run/failing to stop and causing property damage to a guardrail on Interstate 40 westbound at Exit 65, according to warrants.

The additional charges were served to Carney after the Black Mountain Police Department reconstructed the scene of the accident and consulted with the Buncombe County District Attorney's Office, according to Lt. Rob Austin with the police department.

How fast Carney was traveling and the magnitude of the collision led to additional charges being filed, he said.

Britten Olinger, 31, Montreat College's men's and women's track and field coach, was driving home from practice the evening of the crash. The trip should have taken less than 10 minutes.

But as he moved along State Street, which has a speed limit of 20 mph, just before 7 p.m. Carney struck the back of Olinger's Mazda sedan near N.C. 9.

His vehicle spun around and parts of his car along with his possessions flew through a hardware store's windows.

Warrants state Carney was recklessly driving and caused Olinger to ram into three other vehicles.

Following the accident, Olinger, a man who loves to run and coach running, was transported to Mission Hospital where a doctor told family he would most likely never walk again.

His spinal cord at the C7/T1 spinal segment, located at the bottom of his neck, was severed causing him to be paralyzed, according to his wife Sam Olinger. He had also suffered a broken left arm, injuries to his left shoulder, small fractures in his lower back, a major concussion and some other minor injuries.

Britten Olinger, the former assistant cross country/track & field coach and head coach at Eastern Mennonite University, coaches an athlete at a track meet. He is currently employed by Montreat College as as the head coach of the men's & women's track & field teams.

Carney was also transported to the hospital, while other people involved in the accident were treated and released at the scene.

Minutes before the Black Mountain collision occurred, an accident report filed by the N.C. State Highway Patrol shows that Carney was involved in a hit and run collision with property damage on Interstate 40 westbound near Old Fort at 6:56 p.m.

Carney was traveling at 70 mph in a 55 mph zone of the interstate about 2 miles from U.S. 70, according to the report. While Carney was approaching a sharp curve he was in the outer lane and attempted to change lanes, but collided with another vehicle.

The driver who was hit pulled off to the side of the interstate, but Carney continued on without stopping, an accident report states. The vehicle that was hit sustained about $1,000 in damages.

He was served an arrest warrant March 29 and charged with with hit/run failing to stop for property damage and reckless driving to endanger, according to McDowell County court records.  He was scheduled to appear in McDowell County District court on these two charges April 26, according to records Friday.

At his initial bond hearing on these new charges, a court document states Carney appeared in a body brace, but had just returned from a vacation in Florida. He had also been seen at his apartment complex in Winston-Salem without any medical equipment or noticeable impairment, a court document states.

The door of Britten Olinger's hospital room at the Sheperd Medical Center in Atlanta is decorated with notes from family, friends and Black Mountain community members. Olinger is the head coach of Montreat College's men's and women's track and field teams.

Bond was initially set at $50,000 secured on the felony and misdemeanor charges of assault with a deadly weapon, but Carney was no longer detained Friday.

Carney also was charged with speeding, reckless driving to endanger and driving left of center immediately following the accident, according to court documents.

According to court records, Carney also has a history of driving while impaired and pending charges in Guilford County Friday.

He was scheduled to appear in Guilford County District Court May 16 after being charged with speeding, driving while impaired, failure to burn headlamps, and possessing an open container of alcohol, and a civil charge, according court records.

In the weeks following Olinger's hospitalization and recovery he has made tremendous progress, according to his wife and family. He had moved from Mission Hospital to the Shepherd Medical Center in Atlanta, Georgia to begin rehabilitation at the end of March.

His day-to-day routine involves treatment, therapy and surgeries at the medical center.

He had a surgery April 11 to his vocal cords, which went well, Sam Olinger said.

Following the surgery, she said her husband's personality had emerged and he was starting to joke with nurses at the medical center. His surgery also helped him improve his breathing.

"We are now in a waiting game on when they are going to start the weaning process off the vent, which they say is coming very soon," she posted on Facebook. So all in all Britten has made some great progress being here. Than you again from the both of us for your continued thoughts and prayers, they have been working."

Before his April 11 surgery, Olinger said that the accident and his injuries had been hard to cope with but he is looking forward to the future.

A sign was placed outside the Town Hardware store in Black Mountain after a horrific accident occurred in front of the store Monday February 27, 2017. Britten Olinger, the head track and field coach at Montreat College, was paralyzed from the chest down from the accident.

"Now, in the mornings I sit in my bed and think that no matter what, (God) uses me to be an instrument to show him more," he said. "Now, I have a different perspective on life and family."

Since the accident, the Black Mountain and Montreat communities have come together to support the Olingers.

A pair of recent events in the area raised nearly $20,000 for Britten Olinger’s recovery.

The Native Kitchen and Social Pub, which regularly holds fundraisers to benefit community schools, was among those in the community to help. It held a benefit for the Olinger family March 25.

“A big mission of Native is to give back to the community,” said Logan Long, the Swannanoa restaurant's marketing assistant. “When the owners heard about what happened, they really felt passionate about doing something to gather the community to support him and his family.”

The circumstances surrounding the tragedy - and the hefty financial burden that the Olinger family faced during the coach's long recovery - moved the Native to donate 100 percent of profits from its benefit.

There is also a 5K run or walk that is scheduled for April 27.

The Britten Strong Race to Recovery 5K Run/Walk will start on the track inside Pulliam Stadium, on Montreat College's Black Mountain campus. The course will combine the track, the college's cross country course and the town of Black Mountain's greenway. A check will be presented to the Olinger family at the conclusion of the race.

Donations to the family can also be made at the family's GoFundMe account.

Staff writer Fred McCormick at the Black Mountain News contributed to this report.