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"She loved life" Mother wants guardrails on rural road in Rockbridge County after daughter killed

LEXINGTON, Va.- – One woman is turning her tragedy into a life mission. Jennifer Stanley's 2-year-old daughter was killed on a rural road in Rockbridge County.

"I have nightmares of drowning and it's just traumatizing," said Stanley. 

It happened in a split-second.

"We just hit water. She lost control of the car and it fish-tailed a little bit and it overturned into the creek. Upside down," said Stanley. 

Dec. 16, 2018 was the day Stanley lost her daughter. They were riding with a friend to lunch when they crashed off Route 251 in Rockbridge County.

"I was trapped in the car. Drowning. Somehow I unbuckled myself and the driver and made it to the back of the vehicle where my daughter was upside-down in her car seat,"

Jocelyn was Jennifer's her only child.

"She had internal bleeding in the brain and her body. And she couldn't take it," said Stanley.  

Since the accident, Jennifer started a petition on Change.org for the Virginia Department of Transportation to put guardrails on this stretch of the road. 

VDOT installed reflector poles earlier this summer. But Stanley wants more.

"They are great at night. Drivers will see the curve in the road. But it's not going to stop someone from going over and had it been at nighttime when the wreck happened, we would have never been found," Stanley said. 

Stanley says her daughter would be proud of what she is doing and says she's the only thing keeping her going.

"She loved life. She loved dogs, and she was never afraid of anything," said Stanley. 

Click here to see the petition that has nearly 700 signatures. 

A VDOT spokesperson sent the following response about Route 251 and the changes they made in May 2019. 

Based on recommendations from VDOT Traffic Engineering, we installed traffic delineators along that portion of Route 251. These devices help mark the edge of pavement and serve as a visual aid for drivers, especially at night or in poor weather conditions.

Traffic Engineering advised that a properly functioning guardrail would require extensive reconstruction of the slope along the roadway. Otherwise the guardrail would be too close to traffic and tend to increase the risk of a head-on collision.

The path forward for a construction project is Virginia's SmartScale program. Localities and planning district commissions are eligible to submit a SmartScale application, which is scored on a variety of factors including safety, traffic mitigation and environmental impact.


About the Author:

Irisha Jones

Irisha joined the WSLS news team in January 2017 after spending four years as a reporter in Georgia.

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