Alcohol could be factor in weekend crash that killed driver’s siblings

Posted at 11:16 PM, May 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-11 14:48:04-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--For years, Jerry B. Middleton was a top-ranking officer at the City Jail with the Richmond Sheriff’s Office.

Now he’s recovering after police said he caused the weekend crash that killed three of his siblings.

According to the Virginia State police, alcohol is believed to have been a factor in Saturday’s 8:40 p.m. crash on Route 60 in Powhatan County that claimed the lives and three family members and severely injured a fourth, the driver.

Middleton, 53, of Chesterfield, was the driver of the 2002 Lexus that ran off the road and hit a tree. He is listed in good condition at VCU Medical Center after being medflighted there.

It’s not the first time Middleton has been investigated for alcohol-related driving.

Killed in the crash were three of his sisters, 62-year-old Joan V. Middleton, 70–year-old Thelma Middleton and 73-year-old Shirley M. Smothers. All three lived in Richmond.  All were returning to metro-Richmond after a family function in Buckingham County, according the state police.

Jerry Middleton served two sheriffs during his time at City Jail. He worked for longtime sheriff Andy Winston and became a major.

Twenty years ago, when Michelle Mitchell was elected as Winston’s replacement, her first move was to elevate Middleton as her chief deputy – the second in command at the overcrowded and problem-plagued facility.

Mitchell’s tenure was marred by scandal.

According to Richmond City Jail records, Middleton worked there from Dec. 26, 1985 to July 20, 1998.

A friend of his said he took a job and Reynolds Metals as a supervisor.

General District Court records show Middleton was pulled over in Dinwiddie County in late 2008 for failing to stop for an emergency vehicle. He was charged and convicted of Driving While Intoxicated, his blood alcohol level .15. to .20 percent, basically twice the legal limit.

Saturday’s single-vehicle crash remains under investigation.