Henry County man pushes for road safety after tragic find on his property

Deputies found the body of Jeneen Valentine in a car off an embankment last week.

Push to add new guardrail in Henry County
Push to add new guardrail in Henry County

HENRY COUNTY, Va. – A heartbreaking discovery in Henry County is amplifying the push for a safer road.

With ‘no dumping’ signs above him, Chipper Johnson was checking for trash on his property along Chestnut Knob Road last Sunday when he noticed a silver car entrapped by trees.

“Well I knew it was that Valentine lady," Johnson said. "It wasn’t a good feeling.”

The tip led to deputies finding the body of Jeneen Valentine in a car off an embankment after she went missing in July.

In 2003, shortly after buying their property, the Johnsons found the embankment and deemed it dangerous.

Months later, they went around the neighborhood collecting hundreds of signatures asking for a guardrail to be installed, but signatures were not enough.

“Nobody wanted to spend the money to have it done," explained Johnson. "I don’t know if this will get a guardrail up or not now.”

Johnson continued to go to the Virginia Department of Transportation until they added delineators in 2019 along the road’s curve.

A move Johnson said is not enough. but is better than nothing.

“When it gets foggy up there, at least you got something to judge outside the road by," he said.

Jen Ward with VDOT said there is no history of any crashes on the roadway and tends to have low traffic volume with only about 90 cars a day passing through.

However, Johnson said about four school buses go down the road every day.

“I hate to see a school bus or anybody else go over that hill," he said.

But Ward said after the state police complete their investigation, VDOT will survey the area.

“We’ll go out and drive the road," she said. "Look at all the different dynamics of that particular roadway. We will come up with findings and look at what the regulations are, is there anything we need to do on the road.”

If they deem it necessary, then guardrails could finally be in the works.

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