Virginia commissioner dies following crash that killed woman

Virginia commissioner dies following crash that killed woman
The top mental health official in Virginia is hospitalized in critical condition after a three-car traffic accident in which an 18-year-old woman was killed. (Source: WHSV)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WWBT) - The top mental health official in Virginia has died following a three-car traffic accident in which an 18-year-old woman was killed.

Virginia State Police told news outlets that 52-year-old Dr. S. Hughes Melton suffered serious and potentially life-threatening injuries in the crash Wednesday. Melton is the commissioner of the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Melton’s death Friday saying, “We extend our thoughts and prayers to Dr. Melton’s wife, daughters, and family and friends. We also extend our prayers and sympathies to the family of Hailey Green, a young woman from Staunton who was killed in the accident.”

State police say Melton’s car bumped a car in front of him on State Route 254, crossed the center line and collided head-on with a car driven by Green. Green was pronounced dead at the scene, and Melton was transported to the University of Virginia hospital where he died.

The driver of the third car wasn’t injured. No charges were immediately filed.

Virginia State Police said an investigation revealed Melton may have suffered a medical emergency, which is being investigated as a factor in the crash.

Hughes Melton.
Hughes Melton.

Northam named Melton as DBHDS commissioner in 2018 after he served as deputy commissioner of the Virginia Department of Health and said it was “a role he filled ably and with enthusiasm."

“Not only was Dr. Melton a devoted public servant and physician, I considered him a friend," Northam said. “Our thoughts are with all who knew and loved both Hughes Melton and Hailey Green.”

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