Family outraged by crash charge
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Jun 5, 2014, 14:34
HOPEWELL — A month ago a fatal crash on Oaklawn Boulevard in Hopewell claimed the lives of two sisters. Those sisters, identified as Carol Jones, 69, and Shirley Tarvor, 71, left behind a family — a family that is still trying to cope with the loss, a family that is searching for answers and a family that is trying to understand the charge that has been handed down to the man behind the wheel.
At approximately 2:36 p.m. police officers responded to a report of a crash at the intersection of Dinwiddie Avenue and Oaklawn Boulevard on May 6. The crash left the two occupants of the 2001 Nissan Altima, the two sisters, dead at the scene.
The other vehicle involved in the crash, a 1999 Cadillac SUV, was driven by William Reese, 37, of the 2600 block of Wythe Street in Hopewell, according to law enforcement. A week ago, Reese was served with a reckless driving warrant.
Hopewell Police Chief John Keohane said at this point in the investigation, there is no evidence to indicate anything other than the charge of reckless driving.
Police said the investigation has determined that Reese ran a red light, causing the fatal collision.
“The circumstances of course are just horrible,” Keohane said of the fatal crash. He also indicated the full report has not yet been released from the Virginia State Police. “Thus far it’s just pointing to he just ran a red light.”
DuEwa Kamara, of Maryland, lost her sisters on that day in May and is still searching for answers as to why. Kamara has brought up witness testimony, conversations with law enforcement and still does not feel that all bases have been covered in the investigation.
“They charged the driver of the vehicle with reckless driving and we don’t know why they’re not charging him with vehicular homicide or negligent homicide or something other than reckless driving,” Kamara said.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard Newman confirmed at that this point Reese has only been charged with reckless driving. He also added that his is “still looking at other things.”
“I have a duty to charge appropriately,” Newman said. “If I don’t have the evidence to sustain it, I’m being ethically inappropriate if I just bring a charge because everybody thinks that ought to be brought.”
Regardless of the way the law is written, Newman still understands the grief the family is still carrying.
“They’re not happy about it,” Newman said of the reckless driving charge. “It’s an absolute tragic situation, to lose two daughters in one foul swoop. It’s obviously very, very tragic.”
For Kimberly Harrigan, of Hopewell, her words are laced with a deep sadness. One of the women in the car that afternoon was her mother, Carol Jones.
“I can’t cope with it,” Harrigan said. “My mommy was my very good friend and living without her is very, very hard for me. I mean hard. I mean it’s really, really hard.”
Harrigan said the charge that has been brought about for Reese is “not right and not fair.” Harrigan said Reese is still out walking the streets in the city and said the possibility exists that she could run into him at any store in Hopewell.
“That’s the man that killed my mommy,” Harrigan said. “And that hurts, and that hurts. That hurts very much. I’m trying not to cry but it’s so hard for me, just so hard for me.”
The two women were also aunts to Linda Jones, of Maryland. She said Jones and Tarvor were both “beautiful people.”
“They were fun-filled,” Jones said. “We were close. We traveled together. We hung out and played cards together. They were just loving aunts. ... They were my aunts but they were more like my sisters. That’s how close we were.”
Just as expressed by Harrigan and Kamara, Jones is also searching for an answer among the reckless driving charge, an answer that may never be realized.
“So much to our dismay how anyone doing 35 miles per hour is going to cause two deaths,” Jones said. “If 35 miles per hour is going to cause a death like that, then they need to reconsider the speed on that highway.”
All three family members, a niece, a sister and a daughter, think there is a flaw within the legal system in Virginia, a flaw that they said let a guilty man walk free.
“I think the law should be changed,” Kamara said. “If you run a red light, you killed someone, you need to be held accountable for that. You’re setting yourself up for people wanting to get away with murder just need to run a red light. That’s not fair because people do take advantage if they can. ... Some people are bad.”
The accident even shook up Jones, who hesitated to get behind the wheel after news of her aunts’ deaths.
“There’s no respect for drivers having respect for other drivers,” Jones said. “People need to realize their vehicle can be used as a weapon and so I wish that they would have some more laws in place that would deter these people from driving the way they’re driving because if this person can get away with just running a red light and not vehicular manslaughter what kind of deterrent is that for somebody else to run a red light the same day or the next day.”
Newman indicated though that the investigation into the accident is still not over, but also added that other charges may not materialize. But he said the family can pursue the matter with “civil remedies” such as a personal injury lawsuit.
“I just want to see justice,” Harrigan said. “That’s all I want to see. I want to see justice.”
Despite whatever may happen with the law or whatever further charges may come before Reese, the family is still going to continue working on coping with the loss that has befallen them. In a few weeks there will be family reunion, a family reunion with two glaring absences.
“I still can’t believe they’re gone,” Jones said. “It’s just unbelievable. Every time I think about them, I still can’t believe they’re gone.”