1-year-old among victims of wrong-way crash on I-95

1-year-old killed in wrong way DUI crash

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia State Police are investigating a three-vehicle crash that happened on northbound I-95, .5 miles south of Woods Edge Road.

At 11:40 p.m., on March 27, VSP responded to the fatal crash.

Officials say that a wrong-way driver of a Jeep Liberty, Danielle N. McDaniel, 32, was traveling southbound on the northbound side of I-95 when she struck a Nissan Altima head-on in the center lane. McDaniel then struck a Lexus Sedan before going off-road left.

The driver of the Nissan Altima, Reinee Thomas, 43, was not wearing her seatbelt. She died at the scene. In addition, 1-year-old Josiah Thomas, Reinee’s grandson, also died at the scene.

“When one hurt, we all hurt,” said Myra Woodson, mother of Reinee Thomas, and great-grandmother to Josiah.

Woodson says the family was heading back home from church on I-95 north when they were hit, adding that a simple gesture from Reinee earlier that day may have been a type of divine warning.

“She said ‘Mom, I texted to see how you were doing, I love you.’ So we were texting back and forth, and she said, ‘Well mom when I finish talking to you, I will call dad.’ And whenever we text or talk on the phone, she never says she’s going to check in on her dad and see how he’s doing,” Woodson said.

She says she didn’t see Josiah very much as he lived in Massachusetts with his mother, while his father was stationed in Germany, but described him as a “handful” who was “full of life”.

McDaniel was arrested and charged with two felony counts of driving under the influence of alcohol manslaughter, two felony counts of DUI maiming, and one count of misdemeanor DUI second offense in 10 years.

While Woodson is undoubtedly hurt, she comes from a place of compassion towards McDaniel, saying, “I’m not mad with the young lady. I feel sorry for the young lady, but those are demons she has to deal with.”

Investigators say Josiah Thomas was in a child safety seat at the time. Two adult female passengers, the boy’s mother and aunt, were transported for treatment of serious injuries.

His 3-month-old sister was properly restrained in a child safety seat and was transported for observation and has since been released from the hospital.

The adult male driver of the Lexus was wearing his seat belt and was transported for treatment of serious injuries.

McDaniel is being held at the Chesterfield County Jail. She was arraigned Monday morning and is due back in court in May.

This crash is still under investigation.

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