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Ranson chief says running red lights common at recent fatal crash site

RANSON, W.Va. — The intersection where a Washington High School student lost her life earlier this month has a problem with drivers running red lights, according to Ranson’s police chief.

Alana Williams

Alana Williams, 17, died April 10 after her vehicle and another were hit as they drove through the intersection of Oak Lee Drive and Route 9 in Ranson near the Potomac Marketplace.

Ranson Police Chief Robbie Roberts said there are investigators reconstructing the crash and no charges have been filed in the case as of this week. But he said that intersection is notorious for red light infractions.

“The problem we have is everyone wants to take a yellow light and speed up to beat the red instead of slowing down” Chief Roberts said. “I know there’s a lot of complaints about the intersection. The lights are a little too fast, but from what I understand it’s more driver error than anything.”

Roberts said it’s not because they aren’t patrolling.

“We patrol out there as much as we possibly can. We even get an extra amount of dollars from the state every year to patrol for aggressive driving, distracted driving.”

Roberts said in addition to his department, that intersection gets regular patrols from both the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and the West Virginia State Police.

He said multiple motorists run through red lights at the busy intersection every day which is the likely cause of many accidents.

“One of my midnight officers was out there and within a half an hour, he cited three people for running that stop light,” Roberts said. “One fellow, when he saw the officer’s car, hit his brakes and slid through the intersection he was going so fast.”

Chief Roberts said even if the light turns green, proceed into that intersection with caution.

“My biggest suggestion to people is even though you get a green light, take that couple of extra seconds and double check because you’ve got to watch out for the drivers who are not watching out for you.”

Roberts said he has petitioned the state DOH and others to help mitigate issues at the light.

The day of the crash that claimed William’s life, Eugene Weatherholt, 51, of Harpers Ferry, was traveling westbound on Route 9 in a pick-up truck. Roberts said witnesses reported that truck struck two vehicles.

In a subsequent interview with the Panhandle News Network about 10 days after the crash, Chief Roberts said investigators are still looking into the crash and that no charges have been filed against Weatherholt or anyone else.

The reconstruction of the events of the crash includes looking into cell phone records, according to the chief.
Washington High School had additional counselors on hand in the days following the crash and Williams was remembered at a recent Jefferson County Board of Education meeting as upbeat and someone who brought others joy with her laughter. She was planning to attend college after graduation.

Washington High School Principal Judy Marcus describes Williams as “an outstanding student with many friends” who was preparing to graduate next month.

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