Crash totals school vehicle

Superintendent and administrator escape serious injury

Two of Fluvanna Public Schools’ top administrators survived a two-car accident that totaled both cars. 

On Nov. 20, Superintendent Chuck Winkler and Don Stribling, executive director of student services, operations and human resources, were in a school vehicle going on a home visit. 

Winkler was driving a 2016 Dodge Journey east on Venable Road at noon.

Danielle Taylor, of Orange, drove a 2014 Chevrolet SUV west on Venable Road and, according to the crash report, took a curve at 50 miles per hour in the wrong lane of the two-lane road. 

Winkler drove off the road to avoid a head-on collision. Taylor hit the rear of the driver’s side on the school car, according to the report. 

Taylor was not charged.

No one suffered severe injuries requiring emergency transport.

Winkler said as bad as the accident was, he was happy no one was seriously hurt. “It was a tragic accident but I feel lucky we all came out of it with just some bruising and muscle strains,” he said. 

Although Taylor wasn’t charged, her insurance company isn’t questioning the claim, Winkler said. The school car was worth $20,000 and Winkler said he expects no issues with Taylor’s insurance paying. 

Capt. David Wells of the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office said in situations where there is no obvious cause, it’s left up to the officer’s discretion. 

“If [driver behavior] isn’t reckless or egregious, the officer can decide whether to write a ticket,” Wells said. “In this case, it just looks like the driver went a little wide on a curve on a country road.”

He said fault is a civil matter, although most people equate a criminal charge with fault for insurance reasons. But that’s not always the case. 

“You can go to court and the judge can find one person guilty, but if that person doesn’t have insurance, it gets you nowhere. Most people are interested in getting damage paid for,” Wells said. 

At the scene, Winkler requested a field sobriety test for himself because it is part of school protocol, he said. 

None was given to Taylor, according to the report. Again, Wells said, that decision is up to the officer on the scene. Unless there are obvious signs of intoxication, the officer can take the driver’s word.

Winkler has no qualms about how the crash was handled. 

“If [a sobriety test] is warranted for the other driver, that’s up to the responding officer,” Winker said. “I have no issues with the report or its accuracy. I am happy with and grateful to the sheriff’s department, fire and rescue and the state police. I trust them to do their job.”