Problems at intersection with deadly accident

Karl McClendon
Karl McClendon

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – NBC12 has uncovered new information in a deadly accident involving a Richmond school bus and an SUV. Wednesday, police identified the victim as 46-year-old Karl McClendon, a passenger in the SUV. The driver and four other passengers, including children, were not seriously injured. Six students and the driver on the bus were not hurt.

The people who live in the area said the accident illustrates a long-standing problem.

Wednesday evening, public works officials told us because of the crash, they're re-evaluating whether a traffic signal is needed at the intersections of Belmont and West Belmont Roads.  In the meantime, they plan to repaint the faded stop bars on the road to alert motorists and hopefully prevent another wreck.

News of the crash hit Karl McClendon's loved ones hard. They wondered: how could he be gone just one day after celebrating a birthday.

"When I told him 'happy birthday' he just said 'I just hope the Lord blessed me to see another birthday.' It took a real toll on me because he said that and then the day after his birthday," recalled friend Demario Eldridge.

Richmond Police shut down the intersection for more than four hours Tuesday to map out what happened.

According to the crash team, the Richmond school bus had come down Belmont and was trying to make a left turn onto West Belmont. You can see from the paint markings, it had moved up quite a bit. At the same time, that red SUV was coming southbound and that's when they collided.

We met Councilwoman Reva Trammell, who represents the area, at the intersection. She and those who live there aren't surprised to hear about the tragedy. They've been complaining about Belmont Road for years and only recently did the city install caution lights. Still, we watched as police running radar caught several speeders.

Trammell said at this point, a traffic light could be the only solution.

"We won't have to creep up to get out," she explained.  "It will be a light to tell us to go, red or green. Right now, without a traffic light you have to creep up."

One of the first people to the scene Tuesday is asking for the same thing in the hope McClendon's death will make a difference.

"We figure sooner or later there are enough deaths or accidents that they will do something about it," said Ray Wilson, who lives on the corner of the intersection.

We've also learned it would cost $225,000 to install a traffic signal.  Public Works officials took pictures this morning to determine the next step.

Meanwhile, the bus driver is on leave while school officials said he deals with the traumatic experience. No decision has been made about any possible disciplinary action.

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