Woman killed in DUI crash

Source: Andy Jenks
Source: Andy Jenks

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - An early morning crash kills one woman, and police say the driver should not have been behind the wheel. It happened around 2:00 a.m. Friday in eastern Henrico. Police say an SUV crashed into the woods near the intersection of Meadow Road and Early Forest Circle. Now the driver, who survived, faces multiple charges.

Police say not only was the driver drunk, but his license had already been taken away for a previous DUI. He's recovering from surgery, but his girlfriend is dead.

Jimbo Watson has lived along Meadow Road long enough to have an ear for disaster.

"I heard it, and I knew, I said...there's somebody else," Watson said.

It was two in the morning. An SUV plowed through a wooden fence and flipped. Police say 39-year-old Charles L. Smith Jr. of Sandston was drunk and behind the wheel. His girlfriend, 37-year-old Tara Mason, was killed.

The bend is dangerous, Watson says, because there's no room for a mistake.

"There's ditches on both sides. And they [drivers] overcorrect, and when they overcorrect, they go into somebody's property, and this person has lost their fence several times," he said, pointing out a neighbor's property across the street.

The aquamarine SUV involved in the crash now sits behind a chain link fence at the police impound, and authorities say it's exactly the kind of incident they want to prevent this holiday weekend.

Local and state authorities are planning numerous checkpoints to crack down on drunk drivers.

"They're not only taking their lives in their own hands, but they're also risking the lives of innocent individuals," said Lt. Eric Owens with Henrico Police.

Back at the scene of the crash, teary-eyed relatives tried to salvage whatever they could. And neighbor Carol Manning thinks twice about a walk with her granddaughter.

"The cars just come so fast through here that you just don't dare," she said.

Jimbo Watson says it's scary, and he's tells us something more needs to be done.

"They have signs to warn people. That one should be one," he said.

Police say Charles L. Smith, Junior, faces his third DUI charge along with a charge of driving without a license. At last check, Smith was suffering from critical, but non-life threatening injuries at VCU Medical Center. It's expected that he'll be arraigned once doctors release him from the hospital.

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