ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia State Police are currently investigating a fatal two-vehicle crash on the James River Drawbridge between Newport News and Isle of Wight County.
Shortly after 10:45 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 1, state troopers were called to the northbound lanes of Route 17 on the James River Drawbridge south of the draw, 2 miles south of River Road.
According to police, a 2016 Ford transit van — driven by 60-year-old Billy Ray Caulder of Hope Mills, North Carolina — was traveling northbound in the right lane when his vehicle stalled and ran out of fuel. Caulder then reportedly exited the vehicle to refuel the van.
As Caulder exited his vehicle, a 2021 Nissan cargo van — reportedly driven by Steve Wilkinson — swerved to avoid Caulder but was unsuccessful. According to police, the Nissan sideswiped the Ford van and struck Caulder. Police said Caulder was thrown from the scene and died from the injuries he received from the impact.
Wilkinson was taken to Riverside Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and was charged with reckless driving. Police said alcohol and speed were not contributing factors in the accident.
Both northbound and southbound lanes of the bridge have been closed at this time and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has started to establish detours and reroute traffic. According to VDOT, there are traffic backups approximately 1 mile long.
There are currently no further details on the fatality or other possible injuries.