CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY/WRIC) — Police say they’re still investigating a Sunday afternoon crash on the Veterans Memorial Bridge that took the life of a 49-year-old Henrico County woman.
The crash happened just before 2 p.m. at the north end of the bridge when a northbound Honda sedan crossed over the median into southbound traffic and struck a Toyota sedan. The two cars were the only vehicles involved, police say.
Police say both drivers and all of their passengers were transported with injuries and one of the passengers, Michelle McLees, of Glen Allen, Virginia, died at the hospital.
Drone video: Veterans Memorial Bridge crash scene
Michelle Nostheide, the executive director of the Richmond American Heart Association, confirmed Tuesday that McLees worked as the association’s director for marketing and communication. Nostheide remembered McLees’ life in a statement she shared with 8News:
“I hired Michelle 8 years ago as Director for Marketing and Communication, covering the Richmond, Charlottesville and Roanoke markets. In her interview, she shared that she had lost her dad, who was her hero and best friend, to a heart attack in 2007. He had not known the warning signs, and she told me she saw educating others with AHA as the most important way she could honor his memory. Michelle had an extraordinary passion for life. She lived every moment to the fullest, and she took nothing for granted,” Nostheide’s statement said.
“Her accomplishments in her role are too many to count, but one that stands out is the Passion Committee of local heart and stroke survivors she supported, and her devotion to sharing their stories in order to improve and save lives. Michelle worked tirelessly to advance AHA’s mission locally. She worked with our staff and volunteer teams, media and community partners to communicate our mission in a way that made people feel personally connected and empowered to help. She cared passionately about improving heart health and extending the years people could enjoy with their loved ones as a result. Michelle developed such deep relationships with her volunteers, community partners, and our AHA team, and she will be terribly missed,” Nostheide continued.
Police had not charged anyone as of Tuesday night but said charges are pending the investigation.
Friends who spoke with 8News said Michelle was a mentor to many.
“She was so humble and gracious, she was just remarkable,” said Tina Johnson. “When they told me she had passed, just thought about her smiling face.”
Johnson is still processing the tragic events that unfolded Tuesday morning.
“I literally just could not believe it,” she said. “Just started crying, and I just remember my heart sinking and just thinking like I was supposed to see her in like two weeks to start talking about the go red for women luncheon, and I just couldn’t believe it.”
“Thank you for everything that you’ve done for me,” Johnson continued, telling 8News she owes McLees more than she can ever repay. “Thank you for being a light, just thank you for being you.”
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