Bad week in July: Five dead in four crashes; four still in critical condition

No rhyme or reason in the locations of last week’s crashes: Quincy and Desmond Holmes on Gordonsville Road at Klockner Road, 6:41am July 20; James Miller at U.S. 29/250 bypass at Ivy Road, 3:14pm July 21; Josh Payne on U.S. 29 north at Branchlands Boulevard, 11:14pm July 21; James Taylor on Garth Road just west of Wind River Road, 11:30am July 25. No rhyme or reason in the locations of last week’s crashes: Quincy and Desmond Holmes on Gordonsville Road at Klockner Road, 6:41am July 20; James Miller at U.S. 29/250 bypass at Ivy Road, 3:14pm July 21; Josh Payne on U.S. 29 north at Branchlands Boulevard, 11:14pm July 21; James Taylor on Garth Road just west of Wind River Road, 11:30am July 25.

Five people were killed in four separate car accidents last week, and four of those deaths occurred within 48 hours.

The high number of vehicular deaths in such a short amount of time is unusual, according to Carter Johnson, spokesperson for the Albemarle County Police Department,

“We’ve had spurts where you’ll have fatal crashes close together, but this is a lot more than normal,” Johnson says. “To have four [fatal crashes] in one week is pretty unusual. Usually we see one or two back-to-back.”

The string of fatal crashes began the morning of July 20 when a white Ford Expedition traveling northbound on Gordonsville Road crossed the double yellow line and struck a gray Nissan Altima traveling south at 6:41am. Ten-year-old Quincy Jamal Jones, who was riding in the Altima, was pronounced dead at the scene. His 9-year-old brother, Desmond Javon Holmes, was transported to University of Virginia Medical Center, where he died Tuesday, July 21, from injuries sustained in the crash. The two other passengers in the Altima, including the father of the two boys, were flown to the UVA Medical Center and remain in critical condition. Whether they were wearing seatbelts is still under investigation, according to Johnson. The driver of the Expedition was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The brothers, who are from Fairfax, attended Cardinal Ridge Elementary School. A vigil commemorating the boys will be held July 30 at Cardinal Ridge Elementary and funeral services are scheduled for July 31 at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Herndon.

“It’s hard when you see anyone killed in a crash, but to see children who are so young and have so much of their life ahead of them… it really takes a toll on you,” says Johnson. “The officers are professionals who are committed to their investigations and they have support within the agency, but it was a challenging week.”

Another traffic-related fatality occurred on July 21 at 3:14pm. A Ford F150 traveling south on the Route 250 bypass during a downpour hydroplaned, causing the driver lose control of the truck and cross the median into northbound lanes of traffic, where it struck James K. Miller, 66, who was on a motorcycle. Miller died at the scene. The driver of the truck was unharmed.

Fewer than nine hours later, a Honda Civic traveling south along Seminole Trail took a left turn on a red light at Branchlands Boulevard into the path of a northbound Mitsubishi Montero. The Montero slammed into the passenger side of the Honda, killing 22-year-old Josh Payne of Troy. The driver of the Honda, 21-year-old Brandon Scott Martin, was charged with driving under the influence and is in critical condition at the UVA Medical Center. A juvenile passenger riding in the rear of the Honda was ejected from the car and is also in critical condition. No one in the Honda was wearing a seatbelt, say police. The driver of the Montero was transported to the University Medical Center with non-critical injuries.

Last year 10 of the 16 people killed in county crashes were unbelted and six of the 14 fatal crashes involved impaired drivers, according to a July 23 traffic safety alert released by Albemarle Police.

“None are the same and you can’t pinpoint a cause or why they would all happen in one week. That’s why we do crash reconstruction because we want to get to the bottom of each case and get closure for the families,” Johnson says. “If there was criminal behavior or negligence we want to be able to determine that and remind people about drinking and driving.”

The latest deadly accident occurred on the morning of Saturday, July 25, when father of three James R. Taylor, 57, traveling west on Garth Road, crossed the double yellow line in his Toyota Tacoma and hit a GMC Yukon in the eastbound lane head-on. Taylor, of Earlysville, was taken to UVA Medical Center where he later died. The driver of the GMC Yukon sustained minor injuries.

Saturday’s crash was the eighth fatal accident this year in Albemarle.

“We know it’s concerning for the community when you have this many crashes back-to-back,” says Johnson. “We are thinking ‘What can we do? What can we focus on? How can we get this message out? How can we make the roads safer?’ It’s a top priority for our agency and it’s important for the people who live and work throughout Albemarle County.”

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