Residents raise the alarm on dangerous road after woman flips SUV into creek bed

Chesterfield County

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) – Residents of River Road in Chesterfield are concerned after several people have run off the road in crashes at one of the dangerous curves on the street.

On Tuesday, Oct. 12, a woman in an SUV traveling east on River Road was injured after she went off the road, went airborne through some trees, went into a creek bed and rolled onto its roof. She was med-evaced to the hospital.

Chesterfield Police confirmed that River Road was closed Tuesday in the immediate area of its intersection with Black Road for awhile. Firefighters were on scene for HAZMAT because the vehicle was in the creek.

Phil Edwards lives near the curve where Tuesday’s accident happened. He said he believes the crash was about the third one there within the last month. Neighbors like him want something done to make the stretch of road safer.

Edwards said many people driving on the road go over 60 miles per hour, despite the speed limit being around 30 to 35 mph on the road.

Robin Wright has lived in Chesterfield for two decades, and said people treat the road like ‘a rollercoaster’.

The woman who ran off the road at the curve on Tuesday hit a yellow warning sign before her SUV ended up in the creek bed on its roof. The sign, one of several signs VDOT installed in the area in 2020, stood mangled Wednesday.

“They really go really fast down this road,” Wright said.

Chelsea Tovar lives right across from where Tuesday’s accident happened and owns Stillbrook Farm, a horse boarding stable. She said it’s dangerous trying to pull horse trailers out from her driveway when people are flying around that curve.

She said she’s called VDOT and other organizations multiple times to ask if something more could be done to make the stretch of road safer.

“I hear crashes and screeches all the time,” Edwards told 8News in an interview Wednesday. He said he remembers a kid who lost control and spun down the road, landing in between two trees in Edwards’ creek bed. “Constantly see them in the ditch. Constantly see them down in the creek bed.”

Edwards’ son died 10 years ago on October 13, 2011, on his 17th birthday in a car accident on Qualla Road, another dangerous road about 12 minutes from River Road. Now, Edwards is warning people to slow down.

“I don’t think people really get it, how dangerous cars are. And they’re always, it won’t happen to them. I was the same way, it would never happen to our family. But the back roads around here are dangerous and people need to think about it when they get in the car,” he said.

Wright said Tuesday isn’t the first time a bad crash like that has happened on that curve.

“Screeching, like hollering, sounded like a woman in the woods going to help and it was a little boy,” she said, describing what she and her husband heard in one of the several crashes that’s happened along that road.

She and other neighbors agree that something needs to be done to make it safe.

The woman who wrecked on the curve Tuesday has non-life-threatening injuries, according to Chesterfield Police.

VDOT spokesperson Bethanie Glover told 8News Wednesday that a number of studies and recommended improvements have been made along River Road.

She said a speed study of River Road was conducted between Second Branch Road and Bundle Road in late Summer 2021. Several signage recommendations were made, and two passing zones were recommended to be closed.

In that project, signs have been ordered to implement the recommendations and should be installed within the next several weeks, pending material availability, according to Glover.

She also said River Road between the Amelia County line and Eppes Falls Road is part of an ongoing High Risk Rural Road study which is scheduled to be finished in November 2021. She said the purpose of the study is to make recommendations for changes that will reduce traffic fatalities and incapacitating injuries on rural roadways.

Glover also said that in 2018, VDOT evaluated a six-mile part of River Road and recommended the installation of edge line pavement markings from Black Road in Chesterfield County to Richmond Road in Amelia County.

A safety study that happened in 2020 on River Road is what resulted in the warning signs that are currently up near that curve, according to Glover. However, despite neighbors’ concerns, no further improvements are in the works for that section.

“There are no ongoing studies or changes underway on River Road at this time, but safety remains VDOT’s top priority,” Glover said.

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