MARYVILLE, TENN. –In a statement on Wednesday, Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong indicated that the investigation into the death of Blake Smith, 20, of Trussville, will continue.
The statement posted on social media said the sheriff, “…wants to reassure citizens that Sheriff’s investigators are actively working the case involving the death of Blake Smith and following up on all leads.”
On Tuesday, the sheriff’s statement said the death “appeared accidental.”
“The preliminary cause of death was determined as hypothermia/drowning, and his death appears to be accidental,” Berrong said in a Tuesday statement.
By Wednesday, the sheriff clarified his statement, calling the Tuesday release “preliminary.”.
“This is not the final autopsy report,” Berrong said on Wednesday. “We are awaiting results of the toxicology test.”
An employee at the Knox County Regional Forensic Center said the final test results could take as long as 60 to 90 days.
Smith’s family members strongly disagreed with classifying his death as an accident.
“There is inaccurate information going around about Blake’s death, please know that his family knows more about what happened than anyone, no matter what the ‘source’ is,” Smith’s aunt Jill Williams said. “His family was there with each search and lead. It is an on going investigation and we can not comment at this time. If you saw, what his family saw, you would understand. We can say it was not accidental and foul play was involved.”
On Tuesday, Williams indicated that Blake Smith’s father, Jim Smith, planned to discuss the accidental classification with Berrong.
Blake Smith disappeared on Saturday and family members were unable to reach him on his cell phone.
Smith’s father used a locator app and tracked his cell phone to the location of his vehicle which was found running and crashed into a house under construction with his cell phone still inside the car.
The car had extensive damage beyond that caused by the wreck. Law enforcement officials searched the area with the K9 unit but weren’t able to locate Smith on Sunday and the dogs were not able to pick up his scent around the car.
His shoe, a beanie and his gold chain were found, according to family members. A cinder block had been placed on the gas pedal.
The sheriff’s office located the body in the water about a quarter of a mile from the vehicle on Monday with the use of a drone owned by the department. A helicopter was already in route from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and assisted in helping to pinpoint the location, Berrong said.
The sheriff urged anyone with information about Smith’s death and his whereabouts between Saturday afternoon at around 2 p.m. and early Monday afternoon to call the Sheriff’s Office Investigations Unit during normal business hours at (865) 273-5001 or call the 24 hour anonymous Crime Hotline at (865)273-5200, or leave a tip on the Text-a-Tip link at www.bcso.com.