Accident claims Chowan freshmen

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 30, 2007

SUSSEX COUNTY, Va. – A Friday night ride home for the weekend proved deadly for two Chowan University freshmen.

Willie C. Jones, 19, and Ashley D. Leeper, 18, both of Richmond, Va., were killed during a two-vehicle accident along a stretch of Route 35 in Sussex County, Va.

Jones was a member of Chowan’s football team.

Two other Chowan University freshmen – Travis Booker, 19, of Chesapeake, Va. and Tyrone Lawrence, 19, of Richmond, Va. – were injured. They were taken to VCU Medical Center in Richmond, Va. where their condition has been upgraded to stable, based on information provided by Sarah Ward, Chowan’s Director of University Relations.

According to Sgt. D.S. Carr, a spokesperson for the Virginia State Police, Jones was operating a 1990 Lexus passenger car that was traveling north on Route 35. The vehicle apparently ran off the right side of the road where the driver overcorrected, causing the Lexus to cross over into the southbound lane where it struck a 1997 tractor-trailer.

Sgt. Carr reported that neither Jones nor Leeper, a backseat passenger, were wearing seat belts.

All four students were said to be en route to Richmond for the weekend.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss,” Chowan President Dr. Chris White stated. “Our thoughts and prayers are extended to the families of Willie Jones and Ashley Leeper. We are also praying for full recovery of Travis Booker and Tyrone Lawrence.”

A memorial service will be held for the Chowan University campus at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 2 in Turner Auditorium, located in McDowell Columns.

The family of Ashley Leeper will have a time of celebration for her earthly life at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 5 in Richmond. The location has yet to be determined.

Services for Willie Jones are not yet known.

Chowan University campus minister Mari Wiles was made available to students, faculty and staff as well as friends of the accident victims for counseling.