The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Witness: Deputy ‘couldn’t have avoided’ woman in road
BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
A.J. Madison compares it to a scene from a horror movie.
“I didn’t sleep at all [Wednesday] night,” the 29-year-old Madison County resident said at noon Thursday.
Madison is talking about the grisly scene that he witnessed after a Culpeper County sheriff’s deputy struck and killed a 45-year-old woman who, for some unknown reason, was lying in the passing lane of U.S. 29 near Reva Park.
Deputy Scott Yeiser was responding to a medical emergency call at Reva Park Market when he hit the woman at an estimated speed of 70 mph.
“It was a sickening scene,” Madison said.
The bizarre incident occurred about 7:45 Wednesday night while Madison, who works in Maryland, was on his way home.
“I had just passed two cars and moved back into the right lane when I saw something in the left lane,” he recalled. “I looked down and saw that it was a person, who looked up at me as I passed by. I’ve never seen anything like that in my whole life.”
Madison said the woman was lying with her head at the center line of the two southbound lanes and her feet toward the median.
At that point, the eyewitness said he couldn’t tell whether it was a man or a woman, only that the African–American person was dressed in black and almost invisible on the dark highway.
Madison said he turned his truck around at a nearby crossover so he could return and try to help.
“It was several hundred yards back on northbound 29 before I could turn at the Reva Fire Department crossover and get back on southbound 29,” he said. “I was going to block traffic with my truck.”
Madison said he had called 911 and was on the phone with a dispatcher when he saw the deputy’s cruiser coming, its emergency lights flashing.
“I was hollering for [the dispatcher] to tell him to slow down or he was going to hit the person,” Madison said. “[The deputy] had no clue she was in the road.”
Yeiser’s cruiser was by then already approaching the woman and the deputy apparently never saw her until it was too late.
Madison said he had just passed two cars and pulled back into the right lane when he drove by the woman.
“If I had been in [the left] lane, there would have been nothing I could have done to miss her,” he said.
And Madison was quick to point out the futility of the deputy’s plight.
“[In my opinion], he couldn’t have avoided her even if he had slowed down. She was wearing all black.”
Yeiser, who graduated from Culpeper High, has been part of the Sheriff’s Office since 2002.
The woman was identified as Mary Williams. It remained unclear Wednesday night how Williams arrived at the straight stretch of rural highway or why she was lying down in the road.
The incident is under investigation by the Virginia State Police and Yeiser is on routine administrative leave pending its outcome.