Petersburg police chief opens up about death of his son, killed on I-95

Chief opens up on son's death

PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - The Petersburg police chief is opening up about the tragic loss of his own son, killed in a horrific crash on I-95 in Richmond one year ago.

Travis Christian Jr. was just 31 years old. He was behind the wheel when he veered off the road, overcorrected and landed on the jersey wall. He was able to get out but that’s when the story takes a devastating turn.

“It’s a very difficult moment to deal with. It’s a difficult week for me,” Chief Travis Christian said.

Road safety is an issue that’s important to Christian since he’s seen tragedy after tragedy in his decades of service in law enforcement. He’s had to comfort victims and their families, never knowing he’d one day have a story of his own.

It’s been a year now since he got the news. He had just come home.

“I saw police officers there, and I was sort of taken aback and not understanding what was going on,” he said.

The officers were there to console him after sharing this: “My son had been involved in a motor vehicle accident in which he was killed.”

Since that time, Christian hasn’t said much publicly.

Travis Christian Jr. was headed to his home in Ashland. After crashing on the interstate, he was actually able to make it out of his car. While trying to get help, Chief Christian says two vehicles struck him. One of them was a semi-truck.

Christian believes his son was holding his cell phone and talking on it when he initially veered off the roadway.

“The importance of having hands-free laws in place at this time is really important to me. I can understand now why it’s so important to everybody because it hit home,” the chief said.

One year since the tragedy, a sign is visible at the scene - just before the Arthur Ashe exit. It simply says “Drive Safely.” The chief wanted it placed there.

“If you just slow down and just read that one sign and it saves one life because you slowed down to read that one sign, ‘drive safely’, that’s the message I want to get out to people,” he said.

The two drivers that struck Christian both stopped at the scene. Neither one was charged. The chief hopes his story will inspire all drivers to be attentive at all times.

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