Students hurt in crash before school; some in Amelia community are calling for safer streets

Route 360 in Amelia
Posted at 6:26 PM, Sep 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-15 19:52:54-04

AMELIA COUNTY, Va. -- Three teenagers, all Amelia High School students. were hurt in a Thursday morning crash before school along Route 360 at Goodes Bridge Road in Amelia County, according to Virginia State Police.

The 16-year-old driver, who suffered the most serious injuries, was flown to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. She was last listed in stable condition.

"A 2015 Ford Expedition driven by a 16-year-old female from Church Road Va., did not yield at the stop sign on Goodes Bridge Road," a Virginia State Police spokesperson wrote in an email about the crash. "The vehicle entered the intersection at Route 360 and was struck, T-bone style, by a Southern States fertilizer truck."

While the crash remains under investigation, Shirley Sadowski, who has worked at a trucking company at the investigation for the past decade, said it is another example of the need for safety improvements.

"We've had employees wreck, we've had customers wreck, we've had owners wreck over the years," Sadowski said about that stretch of Patrick Henry Highway. "It took us a while to get a turn-in lane [to the business] and now we're we would love to see a traffic light for everyone's safety. Because of the school buses that go through there, families trying to get their children to their school safely, and of course, when teenage children have to leave and go to the vocational venter. That's just a dangerous intersection. And no one seems to stop, even when there's an accident, they're all still flying through there."

Sadowsksi said she had seen at least six crashes at the intersection and noted there are two roadside memorials for people who have died in crashes on either side of the intersection on the westbound side of Route 360.

"Why do we have to have these? Can't we prevent that from happening? That's happening again, three lives were changed yesterday, three families' lives were changed because of that intersection."

Sadowski said people at the business have request a traffic light study from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in the past, but she does not believe it ever got that far.

Other drivers near the intersection that CBS 6 spoke to on Friday were split on the idea. One supported lowering the speed limit and adding a traffic light, pointing to the large number of school buses that use the intersection.

Another driver was opposed and said it traffic-calming measures at similar intersections did not reduce crashes and it was incumbent on drivers to be more cautious and attentive.

Amelia County 4th District Supervisor H. Joseph Easter, IV told CBS 6 the accident was tragic and he was praying for all involved.

"VDOT has studied that intersection in the past and it did not warrant a stop light. We, the Board of Supervisors, have asked for several stop light reviews along 360 in the past few years and none have met the criteria for a stop light or other changes," Easter wrote in an email. "At this month’s Board meeting, I will ask VDOT to study this intersection yet again."

A spokesperson for VDOT said a speed study was done at the intersection in 2012, but determined a lowering of the speed limit, 60MPH, was not recommended.

"Based of the roadway geometrics, along with 85th [percentile] speeds and a lower crash rate than the statewide average, it is recommended we retain the current speed on this section of Route 360," the 2012 report said, in part, in its conclusion.

A VDOT spokesperson said in the past five years there were six reportable crashes, not including Thursday's. A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said there were eight reportable crashes since 2019, not including Thursday's (she added that a reportable crash was "a crash with one or more fatalities, one or more injuries or $1,500 or more in property damage.").

The VDOT spokesperson added there were no records of a traffic light study having been conducted. She did not say if requests for one had been made, but failed to advance to the study stage.

She said studies are automatically triggered if there is a fatal crash and added people can request studies here.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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