HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Friends and family are mourning the tragic death of 16-year-old Frank Woolwine Jr., a Douglas Freeman High School football and lacrosse player, who died early Saturday morning when his car struck a tree in a West End neighborhood near the University of Richmond.
Henrico police say Woolwine was traveling at a high rate of speed, when his car veered off Westham Parkway, just north of Pinetree Road, and down an embankment.
Investigators say the tree Woolwine struck, is just six feet from another tree where two 22-year-old college students crashed in June of 2013.
Michael J. Marks and Warren G. Kraft, a University of Richmond student, died on impact. Police believe speed and alcohol were both factors in the crash.
Westham resident, Kimberly Gentil Grubbs, says the two crashes aren’t the only tragedies to unfold in that same location.
She says a teenage girl died more than a decade ago, after the car she was traveling in flipped over and careened into the median before striking the same two trees.
Gentil Grubbs, a 20 year volunteer paramedic with Henrico County, says she remembers pulling the teens from the car and speaking to the victim’s parents at the hospital before the girl’s death was announced.
“It was tough,” Grubbs says. “I actually told the parents this was a very serious accident.”
Grubbs says she’d like to see the county take steps to improve the safety of the winding road, where drivers are often misled by a blind curve that leads them straight into the tree lined median.
She says it’s also difficult to see bikers and pedestrians when traveling that stretch of Westham Parkway.
“This can be improved and it needs to be,” Grubbs says. “I’d like to see these trees gone and I’d like to see some kind of guardrail put up here on this big drop off.”
Grubbs says she hopes to organize a meeting between Westham residents and county leaders because she says another family shouldn’t have to live the nightmare of losing a child.