RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Loved ones are in mourning after the loss of four lives in Central Virginia over the weekend due to vehicle crashes on the commonwealth’s roadways.
Chesterfield resident Darius J. Gillus, Kents Store resident Leonard L. Taylor, Jr., Colonial Beach resident Robert K. Bowen, and Unionville resident James C. Thomas were killed in a series of crashes in the Richmond Divison.
On Friday, Oct. 1 at approximately 9:29 p.m., Virginia State Police (VSP) troopers responded to a crash on I-64 at the 209 mile marker in New Kent County. According to a release, a 2016 Honda was headed west, when it drifted off the road to the left and struck multiple trees in the median. Authorities said that the investigation indicates a gradual departure from the roadway without braking prior to impact.
Gillus, 25, succumbed to his injuries at the scene. He was the driver and sole occupant of the Honda, and he was wearing a seatbelt.
The former Old Dominion University (ODU) baseball player was described by his teammates as an uplifting and positive person, who will be so missed.
“Myself and everyone else that had the honor of knowing Darius will have this everlasting impression he has made on us,” former teammate Culver Lamb said. “He was always putting his family needs above all. He was loyal and loving.”
8News spoke with Gillus’ parents, Quinton and Gail, who said that he was actually on his way home to Chesterfield when the crash happened.
“Family means everything to us,” Gail said. “He always wanted his family together, and that was one of the reasons why he would come home every weekend, was because he wanted to be with his family, and he made that trip numerous times.”
Darius Gillus leaves behind a large family, including sisters and a younger brother. The family will be having services on Tuesday, Oct. 12.
“Hug your loved ones. Us parents — our kids sometimes think they’re invincible, but they’re not. Call them, take the time to call,” Quinton said. “He drove when he probably could’ve waited another day to drive. Pass that on from parents to kids: don’t drive when you’re sleepy.”
Gail was making final arrangements for her son on Tuesday, something she said she never thought she’d have to do.
“I still can’t believe it. I still keep thinking I’m going to wake up and this is just a dream and he’ll be back home again,” she said. “I miss him. I miss him dearly.”
Justin Hayes lived and played baseball with Gillus at ODU, and said he will always remember his smile.
“He just seemed like he was always fun to be around,” Hayes said. “That was one of my closest friends. We didn’t grow up together. But as soon as we got to ODU, we kind of clicked.”
Hayes said it was difficult to wrap his head around someone so close to him being gone so young. But he told 8News that he will honor Gillus’ memory as he works to move forward from this tragedy.
“It was just God to — it was his time, then it was his time,” he said. “Because we bonded on the baseball field, I’m always going to have his number and his initials written onto my hat and on my shoes, just to remember him, and before every game and before every practice, just kind of touch it and just remind me of him a little bit.”
On Saturday, Oct. 2 at approximately 5:43 a.m., VSP responded to a crash on I-64 at the 162 mile marker in Louisa County. Authorities said that a 2008 Ford F150 that was heading west ran of the road to the left, hit a tree and caught fire. The investigation indicated that there was a gradual departure from the roadway without braking prior to impact.
Taylor, Jr., 39, succumbed to his injuries at the scene. According to a release, he was the driver and sole occupant of the Ford, and he was wearing a seatbelt.
Later that day, at about 9:38 p.m., VSP troopers responded to a single-vehicle motorcycle crash on Monroe Bay Circle, approximately 0.3 miles west of Wakefield Drive. A spokesperson for VSP said that Bowen, 47, was headed west on a 2006 Harley Davidson, when he ran off the road to the left, where the road curved to the right.
According to a release, Bowen became separated from the motorcycle and hit a tree. He was not wearing a helmet, and succumbed to his injuries on scene.
Those who know Bowen’s family said that his loss “was completely unexpected and the family is shocked and deeply saddened.” He leaves behind his wife and children. A funeral service is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 7.
On Sunday, Oct. 3 at approximately 8:09 p.m., VSP troopers responded to a fatal crash in the 14400 block of Route 2, also known as Louisa Road, between Valentine Mill Road and Millington Creek. A total of four vehicles were damaged in the crash. A VSP spokesperson said that there were no passengers in any of the vehicles.
According to a release, the investigation indicated that a 2005 Nissan sedan was traveling west in the eastbound land over the double solid lines. A 2019 Kia Sorento heading east took evasive action to avoid the Nissan, spun and ended up facing west without making contact with the Nissan. However, the Nissan made contact with a 2012 Ford sedan that was traveling behind the Kia. Authorities said that the Ford then hit the Kia, after which, the Nissan spun and was struck on the passenger side by an eastbound 2007 Saab sedan.
Thomas, 69, driving the Nissan, succumbed to his injuries at the scene. He was not wearing a seatbelt.
The three other individuals involved in the crash — an 82-year-old female Louisa resident, a 35-year-old female Louisa resident, and a 75-year-old female Louisa resident — were taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
According to a release, the investigation into this Sunday crash is ongoing.