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November 29, 2016

5-year-old dies of injuries from Remington crash

Photo/Remington Volunteer Fire & Rescue
Medical helicopters wait Friday morning to fly the three Legg children — ages 5, 6 and 8 — from Remington to Inova Fairfax Hospital’s trauma center.
Jared and Susie Legg with their children: Anna, Issac and (front) Samuel.
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A 5-year-old Warrenton boy has died of injuries suffered Friday morning in a traffic accident near Remington.

Four medical helicopters flew the injured from the busy intersection of James Madison Highway and Freeman’s Ford Road in a 16-hour period last week. Two accidents occurred there during the busy Thanksgiving holiday.

The more serious crash took place around 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 25.

Heading south on Route 29, Jared Legg and his three young children sat in their 2010 Honda Odyssey van, waiting for the light to turn green.

A 2009 Dodge Journey SUV suddenly slammed into the minivan and drove it off the road.

Medics summoned three helicopters that landed on the highway to fly the Legg children to Inova Fairfax Hospital’s trauma center.

Samuel Legg, 5, died Monday, according to his father, who has provided regular updates about his children’s conditions on Facebook.

“We are so grateful for all of your prayers and love that so many have poured out on us the past few days,” Mr. Legg wrote just before midnight Monday. “Sadly I share the news with you that our precious Samuel passed away today. We love him so much and our hearts are broken. Despite our loss, we trust in God and his plan, and we know that Samuel is in the arms of the Lord.”

Issac Legg, 6, suffered a concussion in the accident but got discharged from the hospital on Saturday, according to his father.

Anna Legg, 8, “is doing well and continues to progress to good health” at the hospital, Mr. Legg wrote Monday night.

The Fauquier sheriff’s office charged Felicia Arbujo, 31, of Stafford, with reckless driving after her SUV slammed into the family’s minivan.

“We’ve been asked if charges will be upgraded or if additional charges will be added since the 5-year-old has passed away,” Sgt. James Hartman said Tuesday morning. “I can say that evidence is being examined and we will make a determination, based on what we find. The investigation is ongoing.”

Sgt. Hartman declined to discuss the potential cause of the accident.

The night before the fatal crash, another accident took place at Freeman’s Ford Road and James Madison Highway just west of Remington.

At 6:39 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, a 17-year-old driver turned a 2006 Ford Mustang into the path of a northbound vehicle on the four-lane highway, Sgt. Hartman said.

A 2006 Ford van hit the Mustang as the teenage driver attempted to make the turn toward Remington.

A medical helicopter also flew the teenage driver to Inova Fairfax Hospital, said Sgt. Hartman, who had no details about his condition Tuesday.

Stephanie Litter-Reber, who lives about 100 yards from the intersection, said she and her family hear sirens there too frequently.

“Obviously, two families experienced a parent’s worst nightmare this weekend,” Ms. Litter-Reber said Tuesday. “As a fellow resident, you want to help any way you can.”

To her, that means asking state and local government officials to study the Route 29 corridor near Remington and to consider changes that might improve safety.

Ms. Litter-Reber launched an online petition that suggests:

• Lowering the speed limit from 60 to 50 mph.

• Installing rumble strips at approaches to the Freeman’s Ford and Catlett Road intersections to “refocus distracted drivers.”

• Removing the blinking yellow left turn lane lights.

The Virginia Department of Transportation installed the blinking yellow arrows last fall to improve safety at those intersections.

“I do not think the blinking lights have made it any safer,” said Ms. Litter-Reber, who suggested the new signals give drivers a false sense of security and actually encourage them to approach the signals at higher speeds.

Of the three recommendations, she added: “Everybody in town has felt like this for a long time . . . . I’d at least like (VDOT) to conduct a study of safety in the corridor.”

As of early Tuesday afternoon, 437 people had “signed” the online petition, which has a goal of 500.

Since the most recent accidents, county Supervisor Chris Butler (Lee District), a lifelong resident of the Remington area, has talked with Ms. Litter-Reber about highway safety in the area.

Mr. Butler heard the crash radio traffic Friday morning and later drove repeatedly around the area.

“The left yellows, I’m not a big fan of,” he said, agreeing with Ms. Litter-Reber. “I think it confuses people, especially younger people.”

But, Mr. Butler said the 60 mph speed limit along that stretch of highway seems appropriate.

“People have to pay attention; they’re not doing it,” he said. “If it says 50, people are doing 60. If it says 60, they’re doing 70 . . . . But, it’s a straight stretch of road.”

Tighter restrictions and stiffer penalties for distracted driving could help address the problem, the supervisor suggested. Virginia law prohibits any driver from texting at the wheel and those younger than 18 from using a phone while driving.

So far this year, 21 traffic accidents have taken place at Freeman’s Ford Road and Route 29, according to the sheriff’s office.

Sixteen of those accidents produced injuries, and two people have died because of crashes there, including 5-year-old Samuel Legg.

Friends have set up a fundraising website to help the family with medical expenses.

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Matthew F. Smallwood · November 29, 2016 at 4:01 pm
First and foremost, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the Legg family. I can only offer my prayers to you and your family in your time of such a tragedy.
I pray that we all take a look at life differently. We need to literally and figuratively slow down and watch out for our neighbors. I have signed the petition to hopefully have something done to help prevent further tragedies from occurring on this stretch of road. It wasn’t too long ago that there was a young lady hit there by a commercial vehicle on the southbound side.
The news article states that the Sheriff’s Office has a reported 21 accidents at that intersection this year alone. Six of those resulted in injuries and two people have lost their lives at that intersection. Ms. Litter-Reber states that VDOT should conduct a study of safety in the corridor. I’m not an expert in traffic management, but I am pretty good at deductive reasoning and from my perspective, the numbers dictate that VDOT should make immediate changes to the road from Catlett Road and James Madison Highway south, to the county line.
I grew up here and spent many years as a volunteer firefighter/EMT working many horrific accidents with local fire and rescue companies along 29 from Warrenton to Remington. It has taken too many lives lost and thousands of man hours and dollars to have the Opal intersection improved to where it is today. Don’t let the same thing happen to the Freemans Ford Road intersection. The price is just too great.
With the amount of traffic in this area and more coming daily, it is incumbent on those of us that live here to ensure that our neighbors, family, friends and fellow travelers are able to travel to and from where they are going, safely. More importantly, we need to ensure that our voices are heard so that VDOT can make the necessary improvements to the road for the continued safety of our fellow citizens. If you get five minutes of time in your busy lives, take it to sign the petition so that our fellow citizens can be just a little bit safer while we go about our busy daily lives.
citizen observer · November 29, 2016 at 2:11 pm
So sad and my prayers go out to the family for an unimaginable loss.
It seems Rt. 29 has become increasingly hazardous from Gainesville to Culpeper. People need to hang up and drive. I see so many drivers on the phone oblivious to what's going on around them. Scary.
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