The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Driver guilty in Louisa fatalities
A Cumberland County man was convicted of two counts of involuntary manslaughter in a hit-and-run crash that killed two people on a motorcycle in Louisa County.
Kenneth G. Wadford, 30, entered guilty pleas to two counts of involuntary manslaughter, hit-and-run and driving on a revoked license from a previous DUI conviction in Louisa Circuit Court.
He faces up to 31 years in prison when he is formally sentenced on Jan. 16.
According to Virginia State Police reports, troopers responded to the intersection of Zachary Taylor Highway (U.S. 522) and Days Bridge Road near Lake Anna for a crash around 9:30 p.m. on June 22.
Police said Wadford, who was driving a 2003 GMC 3500 Savana van, struck the rear of a motorcycle. The male motorcyclist and his female passenger were knocked off the 1988 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 motorcycle.
Both were struck by the van as it fled. They died at the scene beside each other, police said.
The victims, 50-year-old O’Neal Newman and 53-year-old Joyce Herriot, both of Spotsylvania County, were headed home after spending a summer day together.
According to court testimony, Wadford spent the day with some friends at a campground and consumed four twisted tea alcoholic drinks. He left the campground driving his company van and struck Newman’s motorcycle within a mile of the campground, said Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire.
He said Wadford was driving 54 miles per hour at the time of impact and there was no sign he even knew they were there until he hit them.
After striking the victims, Wadford drove the van for about a mile until the vehicle broke down.
He then fled into the woods, which prompted a manhunt. He emerged from a swamp the next morning and was spotted by residents who called police. He was taken into custody near Dickinson’s Store.
“This is a tragic case and nothing can bring back the victims, but justice has been served,” McGuire said. “Mr. Wadford’s actions were particularly egregious on a number of levels, and we will point that out at sentencing.”
Herriot was an aide at Hugh Mercer Elementary in Fredericksburg, where she tutored students in reading. The school is raising money to dedicate a bench to her, said Principal Marjorie Tankersley.
“She was a real bright spot,” Tankersley said.
Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419