Wreck claims two Chowan freshmen

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 3, 2007

Two separate collisions resulted in three area automotive fatalities Friday.

Two Chowan University students were injured and two were hospitalized as a result of an accident on Route 35 in Sussex County.

Willie C. Jones, 19, of Richmond was driving a 1990 four-door Lexus traveling northbound on Route 35 about 1.2 miles south of Route 626, according to Virginia State Police Public Information Officer Sgt. D.S. Carr.

Jones ran off the road to the right and overcorrected, heading into the southbound lane, where his vehicle was struck by a 1997 tractor trailer. Both vehicles ran off the roadway.

Jones and a backseat passenger, Ashley D. Leeper, 18, of Richmond, were killed. Two other Chowan students, Tyrone Lawrence of Richmond and Travis Booker of Chesapeake, both 19, were airlifted to MCV in Richmond.

Carr said the deceased were not wearing seat belts.

In a news release, the university said it is mourning the loss of the two students and that the other two were in stable condition. All four were freshmen at the college.

Leeper’s family will celebrate her life at 10 a.m. Saturday in Richmond. Services for Willie Jones are not yet known.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss,” Dr. Chris White, president, said. “Our thoughts and prayers are extended to the families of Willie Jones and Ashley Leeper.

“We are also praying for full recovery of Travis Booker and Tyrone Lawrence.”

A memorial service will be held today at 11 a.m. for the Chowan University campus in Turner Auditorium in McDowell Columns.

Mari Wiles, minister to the university, is available for students, faculty, staff and friends of the youth. Wiles may be reached at 252-398-6268 or wilesm@chowan.edu.

In a separate wreck at 11:45 a.m. Friday, a 2002 GMC Envoy

ran off the road during heavy rain on Route 58 about 1.8 miles west of Route 611, according to Carr.

The vehicle overcorrected, then crossed the median into the westbound lane and was struck by a 1999 Kenworth tractor trailer. The driver of the Envoy, Stephanie Ann Arrington, 29, of Clarksville, Va., died at the scene. The truck’s driver, Matthew T. Moore of Greensboro, Ala., was not injured. The victim was wearing both lap and shoulder seat belts.