Deadly crash: Garth Road victim mourned as additional charges considered

A week after a fatal crash took the life of a Charlottesville teen, the family of 18-year-old Samuel Taylor is mourning their loss as police weigh additional charges against the driver of the other vehicle allegedly involved in the accident.

Albemarle County police have revealed that the two cars were side-by-side, traveling east on Garth Road at a high speed when they made contact just before 1:15pm on Wednesday, September 5. The car driven by Taylor left the road and struck a stump and trees. Taylor died at the scene, and a passenger in his car was hospitalized after the wreck in stable condition.

The driver of the second vehicle, 24-year-old Crozet resident Thomas C. Appleton, allegedly left the scene of the accident. He has been charged with hit and run and racing on the highway. Additional charges are possible, and police spokesperson Carter Johnson says Appleton and Taylor did not know each other.

Taylor, who graduated from The Park School this past spring, was enrolled at PVCC and was a guitar and bass player who'd honed his skills at the Music Resource Center and led a band, says his father, Rolf Taylor, who recalls his son as patient and generous.

"Sam loved to share time with friends playing games, and more recently that same capacity for leadership was shown as he gave music lessons to anyone that wanted to learn," says the elder Taylor in an email, expressing both grief and gratitude even in the face of personal loss.

"We're fortunate," he says, "to not be dealing with two fatalities."

A memorial service for Taylor will be held Thursday, September 13 at 4pm at Hill & Wood Funeral Home with a musical tribute taking place from 5:30-7pm at the Music Resource Center.

-Story updated Tuesday, September 11 at 10:39am
-Original headline: "Drag race death: Arrest made in fatal Garth Road crash"


I wonder if the cop shoppe had a witness to the facts they are setting forth, or if Appleton was silly enough to talk to them without an attorney present? But it's more likely they questioned the survivor in Taylor's car while he is still in the hospital under the influence of God only knows what sedatives and medications. It will be an interesting case to watch.

What the hell was they thinking? oh thats right they wasn't! I really don't understand why?

Angie, they was thinking something like this happens to other people, not them. Everybody horses around in a car once in a while. And while everybody thinks they are an expert driver, horsing around generally doesn't result in what took place in this incident and doesn't have anything to do with being an expert driver. It wasn't that many years ago a city policeman demolished a brand new car horsing around out in the Stribling Avenue area. He wasn't on a call, just horsing around. Young kids do it, older adults do it, professional people do it, motorcyclists do it, etc...

So, is it time to rekindle the Darwinism debate?

The one crazy thing about the young's perception of invincibility: they picked one of the worst roads on which to do this. I suppose, in its purest sense, you can cite Darwinism. Or, in this case, "Darn-It-Ism."

R.I.P.: Mark Donahue

Who horses around in their car? People with a death wish.

Stay away from me on the road. I don't want to die because you want to be cool.

There's a good bit of racing on Rio road on weekend nights, and 29 headed north.

Why weren't these people at work or in school?

The story Is sad but i see it all the time. One thing i noticed slow wanna be race cars race on the street, if they had fast cars or some sense they would take it to the track!

A momentary lapse in judgement of two young drivers with tragic and devastating circumstances. My prayers go out to all involved and their families.

@Somebody. Happy to help. But really, such a simple question needed guidance?

Male testosterone at work again.

$20... if that to race at a track. Why danger other people lives because you want to stomp the gas?

Does anyone know if they ever caught the other vehicle/driver involved in the fatal drag racing crash on 29 N just south of Fray's Mill and Burnley Station Road?

From the News Virginian: "Appleton and Samuel Taylor, 18, were driving east on Garth Road behind a hay truck on Wednesday,...
As soon as the hay truck turned off, one car passed the other and the two started racing, Casey said. He said they reached speeds of 70 miles per hour on the twisting, two-lane road."
This doesn't sound like a time to race as much as a time to pass. In this scenario, suppose the car on the right would not let the car on the left back in to the right lane. This could easily cause an inexperienced driver, on the left side of the double yellow line to panic. They apparently collided twice. The impact caused the BMW to fishtail, and the rest is tragedy. Could it be more road rage than road race?

I was thinking the same thing, Between the Lines--road rage, rather than road race. Pretty much all of Garth is no-passing, certainly on the area where the crash occurred is no-passing. Some two sets of bad decisions--the bad decision for one car to try to pass the other on a road where passing is not allowed, and the bad decision of the car being passed not to slow up and let the guy get past. I think many of us have felt that prickle of self-righteous anger when some dumb-@ss starts to pass in a no-passing zone, as well as the urge to make it as hard as possible for said dumb-@ss to pass. We shouldn't be surprised that the apparent combination of ego, pride, and driving aggression led to a death. Just glad it wasn't an innocent bystander.

I agree with Hoolarious--I find it all too easy to allow my self-righteousness to try to make it hard for jerks to complete their jerky actions. I think, "This person is a danger to the rest of us, and I'm going to teach him a lesson." I'm glad you pointed this out because you've made me conscious of how reacting to a jerk could cause injury and death. As we know from many road rage cases, trying to rein in foolish or aggressive drivers can have other deadly consequences too. About 20 years ago, a kind, loving CVille resident with a wife and five children was doing just that to prevent someone from speeding and passing recklessly on Rt 29 North. The man went to Fashion Square Mall. When he came back out, the driver he had been "reining in" mowed him down and killed him. I'm recommitting to being gentle in the face of provocation. This is a heartbreaking lesson, and I feel for the families of all three people involved in the accident.