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From Chasing the Powhatan Arrow

This was told to me by Davina Clyburn who along with her younger brother manage the volunteer fire department in Oakvale, just across the border from Glen Lyn, Virginia. It’s about a fatal car accident on US-460. 

“The one that got to me the worst was a girl that got killed when she flipped her Hyundai Tiburon on the superhighway. She was a Virginia Tech student coming back from spring break. It was a white car.

“She drove her car off the road into the median. The drain channels are steeper than they look. They will send your car airborne like you will not believe. She was not wearing a seatbelt. When her car rolled over, it threw her head into the sunroof and the glass shattered against her head. It rolled her around in her seat. The impact broke her back and when we got there, she was in a back-bend half-way outside her driver’s side window. The car landed back on its wheels. She was already dead. The car flipped so fast that almost everything just rolled and set back down in its place. She had just been to Wendy’s. She bought a baked potato with sour cream and chives on it. It was still sitting in the console between the front seats. She had took a bite and had set it back down. When she looked up she’d run off the road. I doubt it ever moved.

“Her purse came out of the car and flipped as it rolled. Everything  came out. Lip gloss. Checkbook. Compact. There was a little teddy bear, about this big. No doubt she’d had that teddy bear since she was a kid – missing an eye, tattered and torn with a tail that had been re-sewed back on. This was about eight years ago. You never forget.

“It started to pour the rain. We had to wait for a Medical Examiner from Beckley. Two hours. The victim was still laying with her back broken, half-way out the car. We covered her with a sheet; we are big in the dignity of death. I’m setting there in the truck right behind her car. And I’m setting there and setting there and setting there. It was daytime. I said to my chief at the time who was sitting with me, ‘I can’t leave her stuff out there to get wet.’ He said to me, ‘Davina, you can’t touch nothing.’ I said, ‘I am not letting her stuff get wet.’ I said, ‘I’m a momma. It’s her purse. It’s her personal stuff. Her mommy will want those.’ I got out in the rain and I got her stuff. I was smart about it; I piled it in order by the way it came out of that purse. When I got to that teddy bear, I lost it; I just bawled. I stuck it down inside that purse and I zipped it and I got back up in that truck and I set it down. He said to me, ‘You know, you’re going to get in a lot of trouble for doing that. You know that the M.E. has to take pictures of that purse and its content where it landed.’ I said, ‘Let them fine me; I don’t care. That dead girl is somebody’s baby.’

“The M.E. got on scene, a female. The rain had stopped. I talked to her and told her about the purse and what I’d done. I took her to the truck and gave it to her. I laid the dead girl’s personal items back on the ground where I’d gotten them so the M.E. could take pictures. The M.E. said to me, ‘Davina, pack that girl’s stuff back up. You’re fine. Don’t worry about that.’


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