A three-vehicle crash in Northampton County, Virginia (VA), led to the deaths of two girls and left two other innocent victims hospitalized with serious injuries. The deadly chain-reaction collision happened near the intersection of Route 13/Lankford Highway and Bayford Road on the morning of Friday, January 28, 2022.
Virginia State Police received calls about the incident a little before 7:30 am. Upon arriving at the scene outside the town of Weirwood, emergency responders discovered a Toyota Yaris sandwiched between two pickup trucks.
The lead pickup and the car had been stopped for a school bus that was parked with its stop sign extended and warning lights flashing. The third vehicle ran into the rear of the car and pushed into the back of the other truck.
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Each of the injured and deceased victims of the crash were inside the Toyota Yaris. A 12-year-old girl died at the scene, and her 15-year-old backseat companion died from her injuries after being transported to a hospital; A 13-year-old teen who was in the front seat of the car was taken to Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, and the 33-year-old woman driving the car also required hospital treatment.
Law enforcement officials announced their intent to charge the man who rear-ended the Toyota. An investigation into the causes of the crash continued through the weekend.
Drivers Must Always Be Prepared to Stop for School Buses
Even though Route 13/Lankford Highway is the major north-south road through Northampton County and has posted speed limits of 55 mph in many places, it is also a main street for residents of communities like Weirwood. Anyone driving the route early in the morning of a school day should expect to encounter a bus waiting for or boarding students.
Section 46.2-859 of the Virginia Code specifies what a driver must do when they encounter a stopped bus:
A person driving a motor vehicle shall stop such vehicle when approaching, from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons, and shall remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road or school driveway and the bus is put in motion; any person violating the foregoing is guilty of reckless driving.
More broadly, a state statute titled “Drivers to yield right-of-way or reduce speed when approaching stationary vehicles displaying certain warning lights on highways” makes it clear people have a legally enforceable duty to act accordingly when warned to stop or make way for work vehicles. Violations of either of the referenced statutes are treated as instances of reckless driving.
My Virginia personal injury and wrongful death law firm colleagues cannot know why the man behind the wheel of the oncoming pickup truck did not spot the stopped bus or the car he struck. We, like so many others, are shocked and saddened by the terrible results of his failures to do so. Our condolences go out to the families who lost loved ones, and we hope for full and speedy recoveries for the surviving victims.