The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
K.G. sheriff thanks people for kindness
In emails and on Facebook, King George Sheriff Steve Dempsey on Tuesday thanked the community for its support and prayers after the loss of two family members.
A week ago, Dempsey’s daughter, 37-year-old Bethany Dempsey, and granddaughter, 14-year-old Lauren White, were killed in a multi-vehicle accident in Millersville, Md. Also killed was 7-year-old Abigail Cullen, who was in the back seat with them.
Bethany Dempsey and her boyfriend, Michael Cullen, were returning from Baltimore, where they had picked up Cullen’s two children from the airport. Abigail and her brother, Michael Jr., 15, had been visiting their mother in Florida.
While other traffic on State Route 3 slowed, a delivery truck traveling the posted speed limit of 50 mph plowed into the back of the vehicle carrying Mullen, Dempsey and three of their four children. It triggered a a chain reaction involving five other vehicles and a scene that an Anne Arundel County police officer described as “tragic as hell.”
The elder Cullen remains in intensive care at a Baltimore hospital, while his son has been released.
Bethany Dempsey lived in Warsaw with Cullen and his children. Her daughter, Lauren, lived in King George County with her 10-year-old brother, Logan White, and father, James White.
In a letter posted on the King George Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, the sheriff said his family “is still in a state of disbelief. We wake up each morning, waiting to rid ourselves of this nightmare but to no avail.”
But, he said he was buoyed by the support from the community. More than 1,400 people attended visitation with the family Friday night at Spotswood Baptist Church in Spotsylvania County, and an equally large number attended the funerals of Bethany Dempsey and Lauren on Saturday.
Abigail’s funeral is scheduled for Thursday, the sheriff wrote in his letter.
“Folks you will never know what the phone calls, cards, flowers, food, visits and the hugs have meant to all of us,” the sheriff wrote. “We are humbled beyond words.”
Members of the Board of Supervisors were moved by the showing of community support as well. At Tuesday’s meeting, they thanked residents for standing behind the Dempseys, Whites and Cullens in their time of need.
“When one hurts, we all hurt,” Supervisor Cedell Brooks Jr. said. “Everybody was there from King George; I don’t think anybody was left in the county that night.”
Supervisor Joe Grzeika said an accident like that should never have happened. “But it did, and it shows how this county can wrap its arms around somebody and support somebody through the most dire of times.”
Chairman Dale Sisson Jr. said he arrived at the church about 6:10 p.m. and finally got to the front, to speak with the sheriff and his wife, Charlene, at 9:45 p.m.
“And there were about two hours of folks behind me,” Sisson said. “They stood there and talked to every individual who came through.”
Supervisor John LoBuglio said how touching Dempsey’s letter was, and Supervisor Ruby Brabo, whose daughter attended school with Lauren White, couldn’t say anything beyond how sorry she was.
Virginia State Police officers from Area 44 filled in for workers at King George Sheriff’s Office so they could attend the services, said Marilyn Johnson, the administrative staff specialist in the Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff had not returned to work by Tuesday.
In the letter, he asked for continued prayers for all those impacted by the accident. “Life as we know it is over,” the sheriff said.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
A scholarship has been established at King George High School in memory of Bethany Dempsey and Lauren White. Donations can be mailed to King George High School, 10100 Foxes Way, King George, Va., 22485. Attn: Mrs. Morrison. On the memo line write White/Dempsey scholarship.