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Two ETSU students, father killed in Campbell County ATV accident – Knoxville News Sentinel

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Three ATV riders from North Carolina were killed when their vehicle fell more than 100 feet through thick brush at an off-road park in Campbell County, authorities said.

The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office identified the deceased as Dillon Akins, 19, Jonathan Laws, 19, and Akins’ father, 47-year-old Ronnie Akins. 

Dillon Akins and Jonathan Laws were students at East Tennessee State University. They previously attended North Buncombe High School in Weaverville, North Carolina, where they played football and basketball before graduating in 2018.

“This is such a great loss to our community,” North Buncombe basketball coach Chuck Robinson told the Asheville Citizen-Times. “These two were always side by side at school. It’s a tragedy.”

Authorities responded shortly before 1:20 p.m. Sunday to the accident in the Windrock area of the Stoney Fork Community. The ATV riders were guests of Windrock Park, a privately-owned park that bills itself on its website as “73,000 acres of off-road excitement.”

One person survived accident

It took rescue crews hours to cut through trees and brush to reach the vehicle, which apparently had fallen off an embankment and landed at the bottom of a ravine, according to Campbell County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Justin Letner.

Rescuers found Laws, Dillon Akins and Ronnie Akins dead at the scene, Letner said. A fourth person was airlifted to the University of Tennessee Medical Center with serious injuries.

The Citizen-Times reported that the fourth person is the 13-year-old cousin of Dillon Akins. The cousin’s condition was not immediately clear Tuesday.

“The Blackhawks suffered a tragic loss tonight,” Buncombe High’s basketball team said in a Facebook post. “Our hearts are saddened as we mourn the loss of Johnny, Dillon and Dillon’s father. Johnny and Dillon were two fine young men. Our hearts and prayers are with their families. Please remember the families in prayer.”

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