Charlottesville Breaking News

By the Wayside: Busted bridge burns businesses

Back in May, just a month into a planned 18-month project, owners of several business located next to the Jefferson Park Avenue bridge replacement complained that the construction was hurting their businesses. Now, they say the JPA project is "killing" their businesses.

Since May, a pedestrian path ran by Wayside Chicken and the JPA Fast Mart, providing some foot traffic past the long-time group of businesses on the corner while a more sturdy temporary pedestrian bridge was being built. In late October, the pedestrian bridge was completed. But there's just one problem. It was built on the other side of the street.

That, says JPA Fast Mart owner Jeff Catlett, just added insult to injury.

"It blows my mind that they've done all this without thinking about the consequences for us," says Catlett, who points out that pedestrians now have to negotiate a veritable obstacle course of bright orange traffic barrels, netting, and white barriers to reach his store.

"Businesswise, this project is killing us."says Fast Mart's manager, Bill Clayton, who put up a big sign in an effort to lure customers through the maze of construction materials.

"It's a convenience store," says a dejected Clayton, "but its not so convenient anymore."

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Two more: Fatalities mount on county roads

The death toll on Albemarle roads continues, with two more people dead, adding up to five fatalities in less than a week, none of them wearing seatbelts.

Scottsville Road was the scene of the latest carnage. Around 10pm November 16, southbound Amy Ouypron, 24, went off the road in her 2006 Nissan Sentra, overcorrected, and swerved into a northbound SUV, according to police.

Ouypron died at the scene at Route 20 and Red Hill Road, and police say alcohol and excessive speed were factors in the crash. The two people in the SUV had non-life-threatening injuries that were treated at UVA Medical Center.

The driver in a November 8 single-vehicle crash on Scottsville Road– Jane McKay, 76, of Palmyra– died November 15 from injuries sustained in the accident, according to a release. Police are still investigating what might have caused her to veer off the road and down an embankment around 6:50pm that Monday.

Neither McKay nor Ouypron were wearing seatbelts, say police, nor were any of the other victims of the past week.

Larry L. Taylor, 59, of Louisa, died in an accident November 11 on I-64. Samuel A. Wells, 25, has been charged with reckless driving in that crash.

And Jessica Marie Lewis, the driver of the November 10 accident that kill...

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Family tragedy: Mother charged in crash that kills daughter, ex-husband

Twenty-year-old Amber Leigh Johnson is known for her friendliness and her smile. Her photograph captures that, and it seems jarring to be on the obituary page.

The smile is the first thing her boss, Mark Hurley at Cheeseburger in Paradise, mentions, along with her energy. He was particularly impressed she was going to Piedmont Virginia Community College while working full time.

On November 10, after having dinner at Cheeseburger in Paradise with her mother and father, Amber Johnson's dreams of working with children in medicine abruptly came to an end.

Her mother, Jessica Lewis, is still hospitalized from the accident that killed her daughter and her ex-husband, Michael Wayne Johnson, 40, on Half Branch Road in Crozet. Police say Lewis, 36, of Crimora, was driving too fast and had been drinking when she slammed into a tree on the narrow country road just south of King Family Vineyards.

Lewis has been charged with driving under the influence. Police are awaiting the results of a blood alcohol test, and say additional charges are pending. When driving and drinking result in death, manslaughter charges are typical, says Sergeant Darrell Byers with Albemarle police.

The Kia Optima Lewis was driving was crushed and the engine was on fire when father and son Warren and Robert Wood arrived....

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The 20-year-old transaction and the extra daughter

In the November 10 list of real estate transactions, aka "$old," we inadvertently published one that was 20 years old as if it were new: the transfer of 534 Park Street, which actually occurred September 24, 1991– not September 24, 2011.

In the November 3 story of the acquittal of the former Bronfman farm manager, a sentence referred to sobs from "his daughters." There is just one daughter.

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Fatal crashes: Three deaths in 14 hours

Two separate crashes have claimed three lives in Albemarle County since Thursday night, and two others are in serious condition. According to police, none of the victims were wearing seatbelts.

A Kia Optima burst into flames on Half Mile Branch Road in Crozet at 7:50pm November 10, an incident that appears to be the result of alcohol and excessive speed, say police. The car driven by Jessica Lewis, 36, of Crimora, struck a large tree south of King Family Vineyards, according to Sergeant Darrell Byers with Albemarle police.

Lewis was partially ejected from the car. Passengers Amber Leigh Johnson, 20, a graduate of Western Albemarle High School, and Michael Wayne Johnson, 40, of Crozet, were not in the car when it caught fire.

"I don't know how they got out," says Byers. They were flown to UVA Medical Center, where both died of their injuries. Lewis remains in serious condition and has been charged with driving under the influence. Additional charges may be pending.

Speed may have been a factor in the collision on eastbound Interstate 64 at exit 120 Friday at 10:25am. A 1997 Honda Civic and a 1985 Ford Ranger collided in the far left lane, causing the pickup to roll over at least three times, according to the Virgina State Police.

Larry L. Taylor, 59, of Louisa, the driver of the truck, was partially ejected and died at the scene. His cousin, D.J. Taylor, a passenger, was completely ejected from the truck and taken to UVA Medical Center wit...

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