The families of two people killed in Fredericksburg, Virginia, by a semi-truck are grappling with grief and confusion as investigators determine what motive could have led the truck driver to maneuver into stopped traffic, killing two and injuring two more. It is one of several truck accidents around the state in recent days that highlight how often accidents occur because of careless truck drivers.
Charges Filed Against Driver but Investigation Ongoing in Virginia Semi Accident
November 2, 2017
Many questions abound after a Georgia truck driver abruptly shifted from the center lane to the right lane at the intersection of State Route 3 and Gateway Boulevard in Fredericksburg, killing two people and injuring two others.
The accident occurred at approximately 11:55 a.m. and ended with 62-year-old James Edward Lee, who was driving a trailer-less semi-truck, slamming into five vehicles that had stopped at a red light.
“The tractor crashed into vehicles that were stopped for the red-light at the intersection of Route 3 and Gateway Boulevard,” a spokesperson for the Fredericksburg Police said to CBS 6. “There was no indication of the tractor braking.”
One witness to the truck crash in Fredericksburg said he saw a motor scooter traveling east on the State Route 3 at the time of the incident, and it was after the semi-truck swerved to avoid it that it collided with the stationary vehicles at the stoplight.
Charges of Involuntary Manslaughter and Reckless Driving in Fredericksburg Truck Crash
Detectives with the Fredericksburg Police are still working to determine why Lee made the lane change and why he did not brake as he barreled down on the vehicles. Charges, however, have already been filed against him.
Lee sustained injuries during the crash and required hospitalization, while the Fredericksburg Police prepared charges of felony involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor reckless driving. Officials filed those charges against Lee on November 6, 2017, when he left the hospital. Lee may eventually be charged with an additional count of involuntary manslaughter.
Victims of Semi Truck Crash Were Acquainted
The two people killed in the Fredericksburg truck crash were 54-year-old Shari Laney, a Spotsylvania woman, and 80-year-old Larry Marchyshyn, a resident of Hampton, South Carolina. Laney was driving a vehicle involved in the crash, and Marchyshyn was a passenger in that vehicle. Conflicting reports have identified Marchyshyn as the father of Laney’s boyfriend, and as the father of Laney’s fiancé.
Laney and Marchyshyn were trapped in their vehicle after Lee hit the five cars at the stoplight, and Laney ultimately died at the scene of the accident. Marchyshyn, who has been identified in other news reports as Larry Lerch, was cut from the vehicle and taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition with a broken neck and in a medically-induced coma. He died three days after the accident on November 5, 2017.
Laney’s cousin spoke to News4 to express the family’s disbelief over the loss.
“We’re hurt. We’re in shock. We’re in grief and we’re angry that this could happen,” Robin Taylor said in an interview with the news outlet. “She was doing everything right and she was just sitting at a stoplight.”
Laney’s family said that she helped care for Marchyshyn in the home she shared with his son.
Two Injured in Truck Crash in Suffolk
November 7, 2017
Five days after the Fredericksburg truck crash, and at the opposite end of the state, two people were hospitalized in a crash between a semi-truck carrying a load of steel and a pickup truck in Suffolk.
The crash was reported at 10:08 a.m. and occurred in the westbound lanes of Route 58 near the Pitchkettle Road exit.
Diana Klink, a spokesperson for Suffolk County, said in a press release that an unidentified individual was transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for the treatment of serious injuries and that a separate unidentified individual was transported to Sentara Obici Hospital for the treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The release did not clarify whether both individuals were from the same vehicle or whether the injured were from the pickup truck or the semi-truck.
The westbound lanes were closed following the accident and reopened at 2:45 p.m. that day. An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.
Drugs Believed to Be Cause of Livingston County Truck Rollover
November 2, 2017
Police believe they have identified the cause of a 3:30 a.m. rollover semi-truck crash that occurred between the Geneseo and Mt. Morris exits in Livingston County, injuring the truck driver and shutting down both northbound lanes of Interstate 390 in the area for almost five hours.
A search of the vehicle following the crash produced hypodermic needles, heroin and assorted drug paraphernalia. Those discoveries led to charges of driving while impaired, possession of a controlled substance and a range of commercial vehicle and traffic law violations against 56-year-old Robert S. Shenk, a Rockingham man who was operating the big rig.
Deputy Brandan Flickner evaluated Shenk after the crash and determined that he was under the influence of both a narcotic analgesic and a nervous system stimulant, which rendered Shenk unable to operate the vehicle safely. Deputy Martin Herkimer arrested Shenk after he was released from Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, where he had been treated for non-life-threatening injuries following the rollover crash.