Dinwiddie prosecutor drops reckless driving charge against driver in crash that killed 4 Blackstone church members

Local News

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A reckless driving charge against a Norfolk man who crashed into the back of a van carrying members of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Blackstone in 2019, killing four and injuring seven, was withdrawn Monday.

Just before 7 p.m. on May 28, 2019, a van with Shiloh Baptist Church members was struck from behind on Rt. 460 as it was turning into the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Dinwiddie County for an event that night. Virginia State Police said they received a report about a multi-passenger van overturning several times after being hit.

Eleven people were on board. Seven church members were sent to local hospitals with serious injuries but survived. Four Blackstone residents: 36-year-old Wartena Somerville, 72-year-old Delois Williams, 87-year-old James Farley and 85-year-old Constance Wynn were tragically killed.

A collage photo of the four victims killed in a May 2019 Dinwiddie bus crash. (Photos from left to right: Delois Williams, James Farley, Wartena Somerville and Constance Wynn

A Ford F-450 truck, which was pulling a trailer carrying metal, failed to stop in time and struck the back of the van, authorities said. The driver of the truck, 47-year-old Robert Lee Allen of Norfolk, was eventually charged with reckless driving in the crash.

Ann Cabell Baskervill, Dinwiddie County commonwealth’s attorney, cited “lack of evidence of criminal intent” when dropping the charge against Allen in court on Monday. Baskervill told 8News that the county had no evidence that Allen was using his phone at the time of the crash, was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and that he was traveling at the lawful speed.

Dinwiddie’s top prosecutor also stated that there was nothing suspicious about Allen’s behavior after the wreck, noting that he “rushed to aid” the church members and that “the sincerity of his extreme remorse is established by everyone to whom I have spoken.”

Constance Wynn died in the crash. Her youngest daughter, Celeste Wynn, told 8News she is not satisfied with the outcome of the case.

“Don’t drop the charges of reckless driving. Let him pay for what he did,” said Wynn. “This is not about revenge. This is about justice for us.”

Wartena Somerville also lost her life in the crash. On the phone, her husband, Michael Somerville, told 8News he has forgiven the driver involved.

“I pray for him and his family every day that they can move forward and go on with their lives and God is in control,” said Somerville. “I wish him the best. Everything’s alright. I know the Lord and it was in the Lord’s will.”

Wynn said this is not the end for her. She wants to look into what other options her church family can pursue. Wynn said those who survived the crash are still dealing with injuries and going to therapy.


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