Fatal crash is Rappahannock’s first in four years

A 67-year-old Sperryville man, Danny Ray Baldwin, died in a single-vehicle accident on Fletcher’s Mill Road near Woodville last Wednesday evening, March 8.

According to Virginia State Police spokesman Les Tyler, Baldwin was driving his 1998 Chevy pickup westbound on Fletcher’s Mill Road, less than a mile west of Route 621 Rudasill Mill Road, when he ran off the road, overcorrected, and then struck a tree.

The crash occurred at approximately 5:55 p.m., according to authorities, and Baldwin was pronounced dead at the scene.

Just weeks ago this newspaper reported that 2016 was Rappahannock County’s fourth year in a row with no traffic fatalities.

“Unfortunately, that is not a goal many counties reach,” Stacy Londrey, communications manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s [VDOT] Culpeper District, had told us.

Prior to Baldwin’s death, the county’s most recent fatal crash occurred in November 2012 when a 42-year-old motorcyclist from Charlestown, W.V., Theodore Randolph “Randy” Dorsey, was struck by an out-of-control car that had crossed into the opposite lane of U.S. 211 just west of Sperryville. The accident, which sent at least six others to the hospital, shut down the two-lane highway for almost four hours.

Londrey said that while Rappahannock County’s “smaller population and rural setting” certainly contributed to the four-year-long zerofatality count, “other factors such as seatbelt use are equally important.”

An average of 143 vehicle crashes occur annually in Rappahannock County, with about 50 of those involving injuries. The rest are property damage only, according to VDOT records.

As was the case with Baldwin, the most prevalent type of fatal crash (50 percent of local fatal accidents) is roadway departure, meaning a vehicle runs off the road and strikes a fixed object such as a tree, fence or structure.

“These crashes are common in our district, and in other rural areas around the state, due to the curved nature of roads,” Londrey had pointed out.

Virginia State Trooper S.J. Riddle, who handled Baldwin’s accident investigation, was assisted at the scene by the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office, Sperryville Fire and Sperryville Rescue, and VDOT.

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John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at editor@rappnews.com.