UPDATED: Southampton deputy cited for reckless driving in ’21 crash

Published 12:15 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2022

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The Virginia State Police has cited a Southampton County sheriff’s deputy with reckless driving for his role in a 2021 traffic crash.

A VSP press release further noted that this citation was made at the direction of a special prosecutor, the Greensville County commonwealth’s attorney.

Deputy Sheriff M.J. Kline was served the summons on April 6.

On June 6, 2021, at approximately 5:52 p.m., Kline was responding to an emergency call for service, the VSP release stated, adding that he was traveling east on Main Street in Courtland with his patrol vehicle’s emergency equipment activated. 

He approached several vehicles stopped in the eastbound lane, the release stated, noting that while traveling in the westbound lane to pass the vehicles, the police vehicle struck a 2021 Honda Odyssey as it was making a left turn. 

The VSP release stated that the driver of the Honda, Lese S. Tupea, 76, was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of serious injuries, as was Kline.

The crash remains under investigation, the release stated in conclusion, adding that there was no further information to provide at that time.

Southampton County Sheriff Josh A. Wyche Sr. shared a statement via email April 7, noting that a member of “our Southampton County Sheriff’s Office Family was cited in regards to carrying out his official duties.”

“We, the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office Family, support D/S M. Kline and his family during this challenging time,” Wyche stated. “In addition, the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office Family is keeping Lese S. Tupea and family in our thoughts and prayers.”

He said his office will continue to strive to do its very best for the citizens of the county, the city of Franklin and those visiting or passing through.

“In today’s society, it is very possible to have to face scrutiny in regards to carrying out the duties of this office, but, I would further like to thank the Virginia State Police for their professional courtesy in handling this matter as we all work together,” he stated.

Wyche concluded his statement with praise for Kline and an update on his status.

“Again, the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office Family will do our best to support, encourage, strengthen and simply be there for D/S M. Kline, who is still employed and does an excellent job at this agency.”

Explaining what comes next for Kline, Virginia State Police Sgt. Michelle Anaya said he must go to court on the charge of reckless driving. She also addressed potential punishment he might face. 

“If he is only charged and has not been found guilty, it will be the judge who will decide said punishment,” she stated. “The charge of reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is up to a $1,500 fine and/or up to one year in jail.”