A Norfolk man has been charged with reckless driving in a Dinwiddie County crash that killed four members of Shiloh Baptist Church in Blackstone and injured seven others who were inside a van headed to a church revival.
State police said Monday that they have charged Robert Lee Allen, 47, who was driving a Ford F-450 truck pulling a trailer loaded with metal about 6:45 p.m. May 28 when he failed to stop in time on U.S. 460 and struck the church van from behind. The impact caused the van to overturn several times before it finally came to rest on its side on the right side of the highway.
The church van was hit as it was slowing to turn toward the parking lot of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Dinwiddie, where members were headed to attend a revival.
Allen’s truck ran off the left side of U.S. 460 and struck a guardrail. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Killed in the crash were James Farley, 87, a former groundskeeper at Shiloh Baptist Church; Wartena Somerville, 36, an elementary school teacher and the mother of a young child; Delois Williams, 72, chairperson of the church’s deacon board; and Constance Wynn, 85, a former Lunenburg County schoolteacher who served as town councilwoman from 1987 to 2010.
Police said the crash remains under investigation.
Two days after the crash, Dinwiddie Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill said her office was collaborating with state police in the investigation and “charging decisions will be made when it is appropriate to do so.”
Reached on Monday, Baskervill said she could not immediately comment because she has not yet received materials from state police about the reckless driving charge the agency filed or the underlying evidence. She also declined, for now, to say whether additional charges were being contemplated.
The charging document against Allen has not yet been received by Dinwiddie General District Court, a clerk said Monday, so no court date has been set for him.