CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Jim and Natalie Carpenter were known to neighbors as the cute, adorable couple who lived near the end of the cul-de-sac on Old Lewiston Road in Chesterfield. Jim, a 91-year-old decorated Navy veteran, and Natalie, 82, moved to Chesterfield from Northern Virginia in their retirement years to live closer to their daughter and grandchildren, Patrick and Connor. The Carpenters stayed active in the community as members of both the Ashley Woods Neighborhood organization and St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church on Huguenot Road.
“Jim loved to putter around the yard working on the plants and landscape. Mom had rheumatoid arthritis, but loved her orchids,” daughter Colleen Simon said. “They loved attending courses on history and music at the Shepherd’s Center and were members of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.”
The Carpenters lives were cut short last month in an accident that their daughter still cannot comprehend.
“They enjoyed eating out and were just returning from a medical appointment and lunch with a neighbor when they had their accident one lot down from their house,” Simon said.
It was Friday, February 27.
The Carpenters were driving along their own street when their 2003 Toyota Matrix suddenly entered a neighbor’s yard.
“The vehicle continued across the residence’s snow-covered front yard and entry sidewalk. The vehicle struck the residence’s front porch, went airborne, returned to the ground and continued until it struck a tree head-on,” a Chesterfield Police spokesman said.
Colleen Simon said she believed the accident happened around 4:30 p.m., but police were not called until 6:30 p.m., when neighbors first spotted the crashed car.
Jim Carpenter, who was driving, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Natalie was taken to the hospital with broken ribs and a broken leg. She would eventually succumb to her injuries on March 8. The Medical Examiner determined Jim died as a result of the crash, but did not indicate what, if any, medical condition caused him to run off the road, Simon said.
Neither Jim nor Natalie were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. A fact that haunts their only daughter.
“It is possible that they would both be alive today if they had been wearing their seat belts,” she said. “It is our dearest wish that all those who travel in cars make sure that they and their passengers buckle up whether they are going two blocks or 200 miles.”
The Carpenters, who were married in April 1977, will be remember together during a funeral service Sunday afternoon at the Huguenot Chapel of Woody Funeral Home. The family requested donations be made to The Arthritis Foundation, P.O. Box 96280, Washington, D.C. 20090-6280 or The Hospital Hospitality House, 612 E. Marshall Street, Richmond, Va. 23219.
“Our family is greatly saddened by their sudden loss, but we know that they are at peace together now,” Colleen Simon concluded.