Posted by: project151 | October 22, 2008

Nelson County Times : “Shaken By Death” Part 2

Screengrab from Part 2 of the NCT series on Virginia Route 151 in Nelson County, Virginia

Screengrab from Part 2 of the NCT series on Virginia Route 151 in Nelson County, Virginia

In the second part of their series, The Nelson County Times Newspaper looks back over the past year along Route 151 in Nelson County, Virginia.

By Erin McGrath
Nelson County Times
Published: October 22, 2008

Two vehicle accidents killed four people last year on the 18-mile stretch of Virginia 151 in Nelson County that extends from Virginia 833 near Brent’s Gap to U.S. 250 near Avon, making it the deadliest year along this road in a decade.

The deaths of a mother and her two daughters after a crash on Aug. 30, 2007 near the intersection of Virginia 151 and Virginia 635 left first-responders shaken, gave county authorities pause and galvanized the community into action.

Gary Radford, captain of the Nelson County Rescue Squad, was one of the first medical personnel on the scene that day. He said it was one of the worst accidents he had worked on because of the children.

“We’re trained well to handle kids in medical emergencies but to handle a death of a kid is entirely different,” Radford said. “It’s something that’s hard to deal with. I’m a father, I’m a grandfather, so that kinda hit me pretty hard.”

The road is home to numerous Nelson County residents and businesses.

“It’s a residential road,” Nelson County Sheriff David Brooks said about Virginia 151. “There are a lot of businesses on 151. It’s also a scenic route, a tourist route to Wintergreen and to the Blue Ridge mountains.”

Brooks said the road can be deceptively dangerous if drivers aren’t paying attention.

“It can be quite dangerous, simply because driving is a job. (Drivers) have to be aware of their surroundings at all times,” he said. “There are a lot of blind spots on 151.”

Thirty-three days after the Aug. 30 accident, another woman was killed along Virginia 151 near the intersection of Route 840 when an oncoming vehicle swerved into her lane.

These four deaths in six weeks prompted lower speed limits, the organization of civic groups and the increased enforcement of speed limit laws along Virginia 151.

It was just after 1 p.m. on Aug. 30, a sunny Thursday afternoon, when Laura Cavedo, 48, was traveling south in her 2005 Honda Civic on Virginia 151 with her two daughters, Elschen Strickler, 12, and Iliana Strickler, 9.

The trio were in the process of moving to their new home in Crozet and were headed back to their home in Greenfield to pick up another load. Laura, Elschen and Iliana were all wearing their seat belts.

That same morning, a Ruckersville man, Shawn Andrew Lloyd, was also traveling south on Virginia 151 in a box truck on his way to a job.

Cavedo stopped on Virginia 151 and was waiting to turn onto Virginia 635, when Lloyd’s truck rear-ended her car, sending it into oncoming traffic.

Elschen and Iliana were killed instantly when another vehicle, a van, struck Cavedo’s vehicle head-on.

Lloyd was charged with reckless driving. During his trial in Nelson County Circuit Court in May, Lloyd said he fell asleep at the wheel.

Scott Goodman, Lloyd’s attorney, noted during the trial that Lloyd was driving under the speed limit and that he had not been using drugs or alcohol. A later examination of Lloyd’s vehicle by law enforcement found “numerous problems” with the brakes, according to authorities.

“He awakened in time, but not in control of the vehicle,” Goodman said. “It’s just a horrible thing.”

Nelson County Emergency Services Coordinator Ray Uttaro arrived at the scene of the accident to find Lloyd and the van driver uninjured.

“The first thing I saw was one person on the road, I went to the immediately and asked if they were OK,” Uttaro said. “He stated that he was fine. I went to the next patient, which was the person in the van, and asked if they were doing OK.”

When the driver of the van said he was fine, to go help the others, Uttaro tried.

“There wasn’t a lot I could do,” Uttaro said. “Our medical team was right on top of the situation and they very much had the situation under control.”

They extricated Cavedo and flew her to UVa University Medical Center, where she was later pronounced dead.

Traffic was rerouted around the scene for hours.

In May, Lloyd was found guilty of reckless driving and sentenced to serve three months in jail and fined $1,000 fine plus court costs.

Around 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2007, Gertrude Ann Johnson, 54, of Nellysford, was traveling on Virginia 151 near Virginia 840 with Betty Sanford, 63, of Greenfield, when a vehicle driven by Lloyd Wayne Puckett, 65, swerved across a double-solid center line and into their lane, hitting their car head-on.

Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene, Virginia State Police said, and Puckett and Sanford were injured and taken to UVa Medical Center.

Puckett was found guilty of improper driving in November of 2007 and fined $250 plus $61 in court costs.

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Responses

  1. YEAH GERTRUDE JOHNSON WAS MY SISTER ITS NOT RT.151 THAT KILLED MY SISTER IT WAS A DRIVER OF ANOTHER CAR HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON HIS SIDE OF THE ROAD HE TOOK AWAY MY SISTER AND MY BEST FRIEND AND GOT A TAP ON HIS HAND. IF HE WAS TIRED HE SHOULD HAVE PULLED OVER AT ONE OF THOSE STORES AND TOOK A NAP.


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