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Deadly King George intersection to get light

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The King George County intersection where a double-fatal crash happened in May will get a stop light.

The Virginia Department of Transportation started a review of the intersection of State Routes 218 and 205 after the deadly crash on May 6 and recently decided that a traffic light should be put up there.

Sherry Lee, a Colonial Beach woman whose father and future sister-in-law were killed in the crash, ran an aggressive campaign to have a traffic signal put up at the intersection of Tetotem and Ridge roads near Wesmoreland County.

She learned of VDOT’s decision a few weeks ago, getting a phone call from the highway department while she sat at the intersection next to the roadside markers dedicated to Jodi Graham and her father Paul Lee.

“I just bawled,” she said of the call. “I think it’s about time. It’s awesome. It should’ve been put in a lot sooner.”

Still, she gave VDOT some credit for responding.

“I have to give them perks for hearing my cries, and cries of others,” Lee said.

She said it’s been a difficult time dealing with the death of her father and Graham, and the battle for a light was draining.

But, “If it saves lives, it’ll be worth it,” she said. “When it’s all said and done, dad’s and Jodi’s lives will have maybe saved others.”

The fatal crash happened at 3 p.m. on May 6 when Graham pulled a Chevrolet out from Route 218 into the path of a westbound International box truck on Route 205.

The 19-year-old Graham and Lee, a 76-year-old retired detective and onetime movie stuntman, had picked up an auto part and were headed back to his home about 6 miles away when the crash happened, according to Sherry Lee.

After the crash, Lee started the campaign to have a traffic light installed at the intersection. She rounded up signatures while holding up signs at the intersection in an effort to drum up support.

“I don’t want any more people to die there,” she said in June while standing in the parking lot of Gitie’s, a knickknack store at the intersection.

VDOT’s review found that the “intersection met the peak hour and four-hour vehicle volume warrants” for a traffic signal, spokeswoman Kelly Hannon said in an email.

VDOT has already added signs and pavement markings on Route 218 to warn drivers of the intersection with Route 205.

Hannon said the new traffic signal will be paid for by the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program, which targets projects to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries.

The signal could be up by late 2014. If VDOT has to acquire right of way, that date could be pushed back to 2015, Hannon said.

“We are looking at further measures we could take at the intersection immediately, such as rumble strips or a reduced speed limit,” she added.

“At least it’s coming about,” said Lee, who is opening a small restaurant in Colonial Beach dedicated to her father’s love of empanadas. “I’m just thankful that lives are gonna be saved.”

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436


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