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Urbanna man survives hit-and-run

by Tom Chillemi

In about 30 minutes on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 21, Middlesex emergency dispatchers received about seven calls reporting a yellow van being driven recklessly in the lower part of the county, said chief dispatcher Lavinia Thornton. The last call reported the van was on Route 33 at Wilton Creek Road.

Deputies could not locate the van to stop it in time to avoid a serious crash on Route 3, said Virginia State Trooper M.E. Dunaway.

A Gloucester man has been charged with felony hit-and-run with injury after he allegedly struck a car on Route 3 and then left the scene, said Trooper Dunaway. The crash occurred about 4:53 p.m. According to police, Kyle E. Mears, 20, of Urbanna, was traveling west on Route 3 when Michael Scott Roberts, 42, of Hayes, driving a Ford van, pulled out of Doc Jones Used Auto Parts and went across the center line and struck the driver’s side of Mears’ Toyota Camry. Mears’ car was forced off the right side of the road where it narrowly missed a utility pole and overturned. He was not wearing his seatbelt and was ejected from the car.

A Middlesex resident, who was driving behind Mears, witnessed the crash, got a look at the driver of the van, and later identified Roberts as that driver, said Dunaway.

After the crash, Roberts allegedly headed toward Mathews on Route 3. Just before reaching the Twigg Bridge over the Piankatank River, he pulled into a side road off Route 3, about a mile from the crash. One of the van’s tires was rubbing and he could not make a right turn, said Dunaway. Roberts was still with the vehicle when a Mathews deputy came upon him.

State Trooper T.E. Hudson responded and brought Roberts back to the crash scene.

Roberts is charged with hit-and-run with injury, which is a felony, driving under the influence (DUI), and driving while his license was suspended, said Trooper Dunaway.

Roberts will remain in jail at least until June 2 when a bond hearing is scheduled in court.

“I wanted to see him”

Mears was flown via Life Evac helicopter to Riverside Regional Hospital Newport News. His mother, Yvette Stockner of Hartfield, got to the scene just after he had been placed in the helicopter. She started walking toward the helicopter that was ready to take off, but was stopped by emergency workers.

Lee Rosser, a Hartfield volunteer fireman, said he told Stockner that her son was going to be all right.

“I wanted to see him with my own eyes and know that he was okay,” said Stockner.

This week Stockner explained that her son had stopped by her house after work and had just left the Coves of Wilton Creek.

She got a call less than five minutes later saying her son had been in a car accident, but he was going to be all right. “I said, ‘Not my son, he was going to Wal-Mart, which is in the other direction,’ ” she said.

Traffic was stopped on Route 3 and Stockner started running toward the crash, which was about a half-mile away. Stockner said she grew more anxious when she saw the Life Evac helicopter because it is usually “associated with really bad injuries.”

Stockner said she was impressed with how quickly things happened. “He was in Newport News being worked on within 30 minutes,” she said. “I’m just in awe.”

Mears was released about 11:30 p.m. that night after undergoing tests and has been staying with his mother. “I’m just grateful Kyle survived this,” she said.

Stockner said her son has had one flashback of knowing the van was going to hit him. “That was pretty devastating.”

From this experience, Stockner said she’s learned that people should report erratic driving. “Just be aware of your surroundings, and call.”

Be on the lookout

According to Lavinia Thornton, head dispatcher for the Middlesex Sheriff ’s Office, at approximately 4:20 p.m. on May 21 Middlesex deputies were given a “be on the lookout” broadcast regarding a possible impaired driver heading east on Route 33 from the 4000 block of Locust Hill. The vehicle the deputies were watching for was reported to have been an old Stanley Steamer fleet van, orange or yellow in color, with a white male driving.

At 4:53 p.m., 911 calls began to come in reporting a yellow, older-model van traveling very recklessly along Route 33 from the direction of Deltaville with its last known location to be in the area of Wilton Bottom. Witnesses reported that the white male driver of the van was reckless and out of control to the point that the vehicle was going “ditch to ditch” as it proceeded westbound. Seven minutes later, 911 cell calls lit up the communications center console reporting a single-vehicle rollover accident on Route 3.

posted 05.29.2008

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