Out-of-control car plows into bikers; one dies

Update:

Driver charged with reckless driving.

Virginia State Police were still investigating Wednesday a grisly accident on U.S. 211 just after 1 p.m. Sunday between Sperryville and Shenandoah National Park that took the life of a West Virginia motorcyclist and sent at least six others to the hospital.

State police spokesman Sgt. F. L. Tyler said 42-year-old Theodore Randolph “Randy” Dorsey of Charlestown, W.Va., died in the crash, which shut down the two-lane highway for almost four hours. Joann Dorsey, 41, a passenger seated behind her husband, was flown to University of Virginia Medical Center, where she remains in intensive care.

Tyler said a 1967 Austin Healey sports car being driven west by James Warren Cox, 63, of Alexandria, apparently lost control on the right-hand curve just west of the Sperryville Emporium, crossed the center line and struck at least four motorcycles headed east in a group of seven. One rescue squad veteran estimated the bikers would have had less than a second to react.

State police and Rappahannock County Sheriff's Office investigators at the scene of Sunday afternoon's fatal accident. Photo courtesy of Sperryville Volunteer Fire Company.
State police and Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office investigators at the scene of Sunday afternoon’s fatal accident. Photo courtesy of Sperryville Volunteer Fire Company.

Dorsey, described by friends as good-hearted ex-Marine who worked as an instructor for BSR Inc. – the company that offers accident-avoidance and advanced-driving courses to military, State Department, high school groups and other clients at Summit Point race track near Charlestown – was a member of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club, an independent and purposefully law-abiding club whose members around the country consider themselves “brothers.” His club name was Abyss.

In the three days since a report of the accident was posted on the Rappahannock News’ RappNews.com website, scores of comments were posted on the site by IO brothers, family and friends. Most were supportive, many heartbroken; a few were pointedly hurt and angry.

“I am still in shock and my heart is broken for this loss,” wrote Jennifer Davis, a Frederick County, Md., friend who said she’d known Dorsey since his days as a quarterback on the Brunswick High School football team. Her post went on to remind other commenters that, despite the anger and hurt, “the angel that is now watching over us is probably saying, ‘Only God can judge.’ ”

“Randy got along with anybody,” she said. “He had such a good heart.”

At Summit Point, BSR training director Lee Chewey said Dorsey had been teaching advanced driving and accident-avoidance courses since 2008. “He was one of our high-timers, not full time, but just about. He was a very good instructor, very well-liked and always joking around. Everybody who got in his car with him loved him. It’s still a shock to us, and we’re really going to miss him.”

Virginia State Police spokesman Tyler said other motorcyclists went down and were injured trying to avoid the car. Sperryville Volunteer Fire Company Chief Richie Burke said three motorcyclists were able to avoid the car and stop safely.

Along with Joann Dorsey, rider Curtis “Jokester” Nobles of Hedgesville, W.Va. was also flown by AirCare helicopter to U.Va. Medical Center (at least four others, including the wife of the driver of the car, were taken to Fauquier Hospital; Cox was uninjured).

Nobles’ wife Ashley said she was planning on going on the ride, which Dorsey and other club members planned for several days after hearing the weekend weather reports. She decided the night before, however, to stay home with her kids and take them to a movie. “While I was at the movie,” she said, her voice breaking, “this happened.”

She said her husband had no life-threatening injuries but had already undergone emergency surgery and “has a long road ahead of him.” Dorsey, she said, was an “amazing human” who had an infectious smile and gave his friends great bear hugs. “My heart is crushed,” she said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Tyler said trooper Paul Domingoes is still investigating the accident, and that no charges had yet been made. Alcohol, he said, was likely not a factor in the accident. After the injured were transported to hospitals by volunteer squads from Sperryville, Washington and Luray, Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office personnel and a state police crash-reconstruction team spent most of the afternoon at the accident scene.

A second motorcycle accident occurred at almost the same moment north of Flint Hill, involving a single rider who crashed his motorcycle into a 2007 Honda SUV on U.S. 522 at Meadowbrook Lane (near Wakefield Country Day School), as he tried to pass traffic that had slowed in front of him. Volunteer rescue squads from Flint Hill, Chester Gap and Amissville responded there; a helicopter ambulance from the Pegasus service transported Johnnie Wayne Davis, 38, of Strasburg.

Tyler said the state police would like to hear from anyone who might have seen the dark- blue-and-white Austin Healey sports car driving in Sperryville or points east before the accident. Contact him by email at frederick.tyler@vsp.virginia.gov.

Roger Piantadosi
About Roger Piantadosi 539 Articles

Former Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi is a writer and works on web and video projects for Rappahannock Media and his own Synergist Media company. Before joining the News in 2009, he was a staff writer, editor and web developer at The Washington Post for almost 30 years.

60 Comments

  1. Mustang, I was the person on the scene to collect personal effects barely ninety minutes after this happened. There were skid marks on the road, and in both lanes, FROM THE CAR. Those skid marks were left by heavy braking, aggressive over-steering or a combination of the two. That afternoon, when the sun was out and the marks were fresh, you could stand back by the corner and read the skid marks on the road, almost like they were a book.

    Look at the photo. The accident car is in the oncoming lane, pointing back into its proper lane. The physics don’t lie: the driver was speeding and was out of control.

    I’m certain Mr. Cox wouldn’t have wanted this to happen–what sort of person would?

  2. I know the driver and he and his wife are good, caring people; I have no knowledge of the accident but can assure that neither would ever have wanted this to happen.

    My heart goes out to the family of Abyss and I hope that everyone can wait for a full report before rushing to judgement.

  3. No question there was a control issue… the question is what caused the control issue… Was the driver going too fast? Was he texting? Was he dodging a squirrel? Was he not paying full time and attention? Did his feet get tangled in the pedals while trying to heel and toe during a downshift?…

    I just want to know what exactly happened, and why.

  4. Read the title of this article again, the author got it right….regardless of how you attempt to manipulate the evidence.

  5. Charlie, Mustang ….youve cracked the case…call the VA Troopers and tell um to put down all the eveidence. You got it all covered. Again I will say….if you aint payed by the state to investigate then your comments are probably only hurting the chance for the truth to come out. Now why dont both of you sit down in a garage and have a beer while looking over the damage to your friends car. Leave the rest to the Judicial system unless you are going to tell the judge and jury you got that under control as well.

  6. I have been to the accident site 3 times in the last 5 days, each time to look at different things, and to take more pictures. I am trying to formulate a scenario, in which neither the party was doing anything other than going 5 to 10 miles over the posted corner speed limit, which is pretty typical in real life, as reticent as some folks may be to admit it. I think.. that the driver may have been surprised by the motorcycles at this blind corner… and it was just an accident, without criminal negligence on either side… this is my optimistic hope anyway… I think the DOT should do something to improve awareness of this corner, to include more signs, and rumble strips or something coming both directions, to get people to really slow down. I sat for a half hour the other day and watched people blasting through this corner, sometimes on or over the centerline… it would be productive if some improvements to make drivers more aware to this blind apex curve, as well as some physical improvements, to include excavating the bank back some to improve room and visibility through and around the corner. There is lots of debris on both shoulders of this corner, from many prior accidents…

  7. Mustang, I appreciate your input. I read a lot of vicious comments earlier saying the Healey driver should be in jail “for life” for this tragic accident. If he was drunk, yes, there would be reason for the anger directed his way. But, there are reasons for accidents whether this one is the result of driver error, car failure, or other road factors that come about in a nano second. Could it have been sunlight related? Oil on the road related? Who knows, except the driver. I also read some people were trying to tie this in with another car group that involve “super cars”. Healeys don’t run in that crowd- they can’t. lol

  8. I have taken a lot of photos of the scene. No tire mark evidence of fishtailing before the impact site. I can imagine the car driver driving around the tree branches, and being then surprised by the lead motorcycles coming around the corner, and making a fairly abrupt steering input, followed by his braking in panic, locking his front tires, and then understeering (from brake lock up) into the oncoming lane. The RF tire of the car came to rest on the centerline as is one of the motorcycles…if the car driver had been going very fast, he would not still be in the center of the road, but into or through the guardrail at the outside of the corner. My question is what did he see that caused him to brake so hard he locked the front tires when he could have easy just driven through the corner at 45 mph or higher. I don’t think speed or centrifugal force carried him over the center line…I think what ever caused him to brake suddenly, caused him to apply enough brake pedal pressure that he locked his front wheels, and was at that point a passenger. The skid marks are not very long, so I don’t think there is evidence of grossly high speed. Did he have a brake problem… perhaps brakes not bled very well? Old car…air in the calipers or brake lines? Drum brakes on the rear… there were no rear tire skid marks that I could see.. lots of questions…

  9. @ mustang…photo evidence will reveal if what you say is true, but as “Concern for justice” has said we have no right to judge on here. And as you said you were not there so you are presuming to know and state fact. There may have been a tree that I did not see but at least I was there and the yellow warning speed signs I observed with the curved arrows suggested 15, 20 and 25 mph east bound at the individual curves. I wish no malice towards any one attempting to explain what happened there and I offer no further explaination myself, but if you personally was not present then you should not offer excuses or opininons or explainations to this particular incident. Deepest sorrows and condolences to “ALL” injured and useful reminders to be observent to all persons sharing the roads to prevent future tragedy would be appropriate.

    Once again and for the last,

    Trauma
    Central Maryland
    Old Line Militia
    Iron Order MC

  10. the speed limit on the stretch is basically 45 mph, and leaving Sperryville westbound, the corners are open with good visibility, and posted at 40 or 35 mph. This particular corner is posted at 30 mph. This particular corner, however is a wide radius at entry that suddenly tightens up; a decreasing radius corner, which, if one is expecting a constant radius, can be a sudden surprise. There visibility around the corner is obscured by a steep hillside on the inside of the corner, which also makes the corner very narrow on the inside of the corner. There was also a large branch down on the inside of the corner, if you are westbound that may have forced the Sports car a closer towards the center line, just before the corner tightens. It is possible the driver was squeezed towards the centerline by the branches of the downed tree limb lying by the right shoulder of the road, just as the motorcycles where passing through. I wasn’t there, but it is possible it was just an accident, that wasn’t the result of inappropriate driving or speeding but rather bad timing of everyone arriving at the corner at the same time. A tragedy for all concerned.

  11. Pray for the injured, let the Virginia State Troopers and crash scene investigators do their jobs, I have faith in them. Please everyone else wait for the facts. To many cases tried by the public from the news reports have disrupted due justice. I beleive that the facts will speak clearly when all is done. Im sure no one wanted this to happen.

  12. The facts are: A person very dear to more people than you could ever imagine was killed and so many people hurt. The facts won’t make it any easier.

  13. I’ve known Jim and Linda for about 30 years.Jim built that car about 10 years ago,My wife and I have traveled to Healey meets all over the country with Jim.If you knew Jim you would know something either happened to the car or he had a health issue.I have never ever seen him driving the least bit out of controll driving anything!including his Harley.Don’t judge him until we all know the facts.

  14. @Kent I was not there however two members of my club were the first two riders and narrowly missed the out of control car. From their accounts the revving engine and screeching tires of his car could be heard seconds before he came around the corner, out of control and fishtailing into the opposite lane. He over-corrected around the corner, smashed into a rock and then careened into the other bikes. He was clearly driving excessively fast and recklessly with no regard for anyone but himself.

    Bonzo
    BMC
    NBLB

  15. My heart goes out to his family & friends, any man who earns the right to wear the uniform of a United States MARINE has earned my respect. SEMPER FIDELIS….May God watch over us all during these trying times….GOD BLESS.

    From a brother in arms… USN Ret. / DOS employee as well.

  16. The Augusta County incident involved contemporary cars, certainly not related to the Austin-Healey car involved in this accident. My condolences to all parties involved.

  17. I’ve known Mr. cox for 30 years and find it hard to believe that he would put his wife and a car that he loved in any danger. Can someone who was there describe for me what happened. I’m so sorry.

  18. I must have been a few minutes ahead of them, departing Skyland for Warrenton at 1230. It was such a beautiful day with so many bikes out. It was when I got home later in the day, that I found out about the accident from a friend who sent me a text asking if I was ok. My sincerest thoughts go out to all the victims, their families and friends. What a truly tragic occurrence this was.

  19. A Trauma, Amen Brother.. couldn’t agree with you more and well put. We all have to share the road and look out for one another and first and foremost obey the LAWS of the road. God Bless us all :)

    L & R
    Bible Dave & Gabby
    BNC/SNC MM

  20. @ Sally, My road name is “Trauma” for a reason and I know what Im talking about. Please dont take this as an angry response to your post. I only wish to educate. I was one of the riders present and struck. And yes we were all wearing helmets (per state law)….and yes those helmets did reduce injury but none of the critical injurys involved head trauma from what I could survey at the time. As far as your comment that it could have happened to anyone (concerning the car operator)…all I have to say is it could only happen if you were not obeying the posted speed limits and observing the posted warning signs. I am a STRONG advocate for safe responsable vehicle operation and practice a concept of due regard for pulic safety while on the road. The results may not have been intentional but the actions leading up to this tragedy was a result of over confidence and lack of consideration for public safety in my estimate….No excuses! Hopefully this will help raise public awareness to the fact that sports cars are bound by the same laws of physics that family cars are bound by. Share the road safely ladies and gentlemen.

  21. Before we rip everyone to shreds, it is indeed a tragedy but there for the grace of God go I. The gentleman driving the sports car may have suffered a medical issue, been driving too fast for the road but am sure it was not intentional. I have two nephews who ride motorcycles and don’t wear helmets. I don’t know if these bikers were wearing helmets. I hope so. My thoughts and prayers go to everyone concerned. But let’s not forget, it could be you, I or anyone who could have veered into the wrong lane; car, motorcycle or truck.

  22. Naphtali Chapter Widows Sons Masonic Riders Association sends our deepest sorrows to all family and friends, you are in our thoughts and prayers. God Bless.

    VanC
    President
    Naphtali Chapter Virginia Widows Sons Masonic Riders Association

  23. I had the brief pleasure of having one of the most fascinating conversations with one of the riders one crisp autumn night while watching our boys. I didn’t want to believe it when I heard the news late Thursday afternoon. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Nobles family and everyone affected by this awful tragedy.

  24. I went to high school with Randy and just recently reconnected with him on facebook…this is so tragic! My family ownes a motorcycle shop and I am a rider and I know Randy thoroughly enjoyed riding and rode with great care for himself and others! May you rest in peace my friend and may your fellow riders including your beautiful wife have a quick recovery! GONE TO YOUNG BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN YOU GENTLE GIANT YOU!!!!

  25. This is the second time in six months that an accident has happened on the 211 mtn. (that I know of) Both times I was on my way home from Luray to Fredericksburg and stopped by the fire dept personnel. I had to detour thru Front Royal, a small inconvenience considering what happened to the bikers. My daughter rides a Harley and I always worry about her when she’s riding. I have seen many cars driving too fast over this mtn. I send my best regards to those hurt and killed in this latest accident. God Bless.

  26. I never met Randy but my mom knew him!! We are saddened behind his death and wish his wife and fellow riders a full and safe recovery!! I would also like to ask if anybody knows any information on when his funeral would be please contact me at alynn22j@yahoo.com….. My name is Amanda and my mother would like to show her support!!! Thank you and god bless!!

  27. Prayers to all my IO family involved… May God wrap his loving arms around you all and give us all what we need to make it through this time. IO has suffered to many losses here recently . Please EVERYONE pay more attention to our biker families .

  28. My heart hurts right now. I have been a freind of Randy and his family for 25 years and they are great people. Randy was a great person to all. No one is perfect by far. To Aunt Jackie, Uncle Tommy, Rosco, and Tonya I love you all and my thoughts and prayers are with you during this time. Stay strong and positive through it all. May peace and God be with you. I didn’t know Joann well but my thoughts and prayers are with her and her family as well. Hope you have a speedy recovery. That goes to all that were hurt, and affected by this tragedy. Ride on brothers and be safe doing it. I also am praying for the wife of the driver along with the driver. He has a long road ahead of him. To the Dorsey family I love you always.
    Love Tasha and family.

  29. Just to inform the general public, the motorcyclist involved in this tragedy act with due regard for public safety at all times on public road ways and place safety first. Special care was taken while traveling on this specific road… single file and well distanced regarding all posted warning signs. The Iron Order MC is deeply wounded by the loss of life and personnal injurys but will always remain an advocate for safe responsable conduct. Thanks to everyone for your well wishes and prayers.

    Trauma
    Vice President
    Central Marylands
    Old Line Militia
    Iron Order MC
    IOFFIO/MBBM

  30. @Joe, This isn’t the forum for airing your personal trash about “cagers”. Show some of the respect you claim to have and take it elsewhere. As for “when will they learn”, we have all seen our share of riders go down for their own stupidity as well. The shoe fits both feet.

  31. I have known Randy for over 20 yrs, we went to school together, then as adults all the way back to Tully days. I am still in shock and my heart is broken for his loss. I wish his wife and friends a full recovery. In my eyes I cant judge anyone until there proof regardless of my anger and hurt, I would hope the driver didn’t have any medical issues that caused this tragic event. If it was poor judgement and reckless driving then yes he should get what he deserves, however the ANGEL that is now watching over us is probably saying to all of us…. ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE. As a friend, a protector over the years I will deeply miss you Randy. I raise my glass too you!

  32. Ashely, Curtis, & Iron Order MC Brother’s
    Brother’s & Sister’s In Christ send our Thought’s & Prayers to all of you. We are here if you needs us. Don’t hesitate to ask. The lost Brother’s family included. Sorry for the loss of a Brother. Our thought and Prayers will be with them as well

    L&R
    Gabby & Bible Dave

  33. I am a motorcyclist that frequents this stretch and I have seen both motorcycles and cars and even soccer team toting minivans being driven like they were stolen on this road. I too have had numerous brushes with death on a motorcycle due to careless drivers, and was almost taken out by a VW Bug going way too fast on that same stretch of road on a different occasion. Bottom line is that this is a very dangerous stretch of road with a very high accident count and everyone needs to slow the f*** down. You don’t have to be dragging peg or drifting or getting the car up on two wheels to have fun on this road. Don’t put our lives in danger because you want an adrenaline rush. My deepest sympathies for those injured in this accident and I hope everyone recovers quickly. As for the driver of the car, far too often do people like this just get a slap on the wrist and sent home. I just hope he has plenty of time to think about his actions behind bars, but we will see.

  34. I was the first in line leading the group .This guy driving must pay the price for his actions . His wife ? or who ever she is , injured also, I hope she recovers .I don`t know what to say except I hope everybody recovers quickly. I was injured on May12 . I`m up and ridding ,this type of accident shouldn`t happen !

  35. my heart and prayers go out to all the family and friends. This hits too close to home for me. Randy was a good man. RIP

  36. How many accidents are we going to see until something is done about that road? “Cagers” are not the only ones to blame motorcycles pass you like you are sitting still on that road when you are doing the speed limit.

  37. As a friend of the IO and a brother of a brother who was there, this is very hard news to hear. I know you guys have had a rough patch here lately and jst know that all of you are in my thoughts and prayers. I just rode my bike 700 miles from florida to tennessee yesterday and had some close calls myself. People need to start paying more attention to us bikers.

  38. My heart is still so saddened by all of this and how it affects so many families. I don’t know if this might help the police or not but in Augusta County on Rt 262 and Rt 250 there were about 15-20 cars driving very reckless. They were on the opposite side of the road and running people off the road also. It was a group called Northern VA Car Club, so maybe he was involved with the group due to the type of car that was involved with the accident. Continue prayers for all involved and know that your brothers and sisters are here for you all.

  39. A true tragedy. I beg anyone who saw this vehicle prior to the accident, please contact the authorities. The loss of Randy is so tragic that words cannot describe. Ashley, we love you and Curtis and Joann! It is such a shame………….

  40. Dumb ass apparently lost control on a curve b/c he was going too fast I bet! I hope he gets a good lengthy jail sentence for murder. When are cagers going to learn?!

  41. Ashley – I am sorry for the loss of your brother and friend. As a rider myself, I was heartbroken when I heard about this accident. May he rest in peace and I hope your husband along with the others recover quickly. Take care!

  42. My husband was also flown to UVA along with JoJo… All Brothers,friends and family are here and going to help them pull through! My heart simply is crushed Abyss (Randy) was by far and away an Amazing human! I will miss him and his infectious smiles and bear hugs. Thoughts and well wishes to his family and friends….and anyone who had the honor of knowing him!!

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