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Community remembers pregnant mother, son killed in Jefferson City crash one year ago

It's been one year since police say a man deliberately drove his car into a pregnant mother and son walking in downtown Jefferson City, killing them.

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — It's been one year since a deadly crash in Jefferson City killed a pregnant mother and her 2-year-old son while while on a walk downtown. The community still finds ways to remember the pair.

William David Phillips, the man accused of intentionally driving his car into Sierra and Nolan Cahoon, is still undergoing mental evaluations before trial.

He is facing three first-degree murder charges and one attempted murder charge.

June 17 is a day permanently burned into Children's Day Out Director Beth Ann Smith's mind.

"I have been watching the calendar for weeks, knowing that today was coming," Smith said. "It's the year anniversary of the day Sierra and Nolan died."

Since that day in 2019, she's tended to the tank in Nolan's Nook at First Baptist Church in Jefferson City, thinking of the feisty 2-year-old, Nolan Cahoon, who used to flock to the fish.

RELATED: 'Nolan's Nook' remembers toddler lost in Jefferson City crash

"Sometimes when I am talking to the fish, or when I'm talking to Nolan about the fish, I'm looking at the ceiling while I do it, because I know he's with the Lord," Smith nodded.

From one fish tank, to another across town, John Carberry remembers the day the car crashed into the side of his business Sustainable Aquatics and killed the pregnant mother and son who were just walking nearby.

RELATED: 'It could have killed me': Woman OK after police say deliberate crash killed pregnant mother and child

"This mother and child walked all the time," Carberry recalled. "They came into the hatchery to see fish, they talked to people, they were here all the time."

The hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the business is fixed, with fragments and reminders of a year ago, but nothing will ever fill the hole left behind in the community's heart.

RELATED: Carson-Newman community grieves for family killed in what police say was an 'intentional' crash

"This was a very innocent, happy person and child that were just doing what they did, which was walking, and were basically murdered by a crazy man," Carberry said.

Since that tragic day, the Coral Reef Pet Center and Sustainable Aquatics have helped the daycare maintain the fish tank in their lobby and remember the three Cahoons taken too soon.

"The memory of Sierra and Nolan can continue to live on not just here with fish, but in the people that love them and that knew them," Smith said.

The next court date for the suspect is set for July 7, but the sheriff said that may be delayed again.

RELATED: Driver accused of killing pregnant mother, 2-year-old son faces third murder charge

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