SPOTSYLVANIA -- Authorities on Monday found and arrested the man they believe struck and killed a motorcycle rider and his passenger on a rural Louisa County road Saturday night before fleeing the scene in a company van, according to state police.
Kenneth G. Wadford, 30, was arrested after someone recognized him at a business near the scene of the crash, police said.
Wadford, of Cumberland County, who has a lengthy record of driving offenses, sat in the Central Virginia Regional Jail in Orange as the family and friends of O’Neal F. Newman, the driver of the motorcycle, sat outside his mother’s house and shared memories.
“He was a very humble young man,” Alvira Flowers said of Newman. “Never have I heard anyone say …”
“Not a cross word,” Brenda Parker completed the sentence. “You couldn’t say anything because he was a well-loved person by everybody.”
Vance Brown recalled that Newman was quick with a kind word or a wave anytime he saw someone he knew.
Newman did concrete work with his father until his father died, then did handyman work, Barbara Newman, his mother said.
“He rode a motorcycle all the time; that was his favorite hobby,” she said. A few minutes later, she summed it up: “His bike was everything to him.”
Newman had two motorcycles, and occasionally took his sister, or his girlfriend, Joyce A. Herriot, for a ride, his mother said.
Herriot, 53, of Lawyers Road in Spotsylvania, was his passenger Saturday night, and died with him.
Newman’s mother said she doesn’t know where he was going that night because she was out of town.
He was driving south on U.S. 522, trying to turn left onto Days Bridge Road, when a 2003 GMC Savana 3500 van struck the rear of his bike, according to Sgt. Thomas J. Molnar of the Virginia State Police.
State police said the crash threw Newman and Herriot from the bike, and that the van then struck them both as it fled the scene.
The van that hit them is registered to Arctic Refrigeration Service in Cumberland, according to Molnar. A call to the company seeking comment was not returned.
After the crash, the van only made it about another mile south before breaking down, according to state police, who said they believe Wadford then fled into some nearby woods.
State police and county sheriff’s deputies searched for him with bloodhounds, but without success.
Monday, someone recognized Wadford at a business near where the van broke down, and the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office arrested him without incident, according to state police.
Wadford is being held without bond, and is expected to be in court Tuesday.
He’s facing two felony counts of hit-and-run, and is wanted for failing to appear for an unrelated charge in South Carolina, according to state police.
He was already facing a group of driving-related charges, including driving with a suspended or revoked license and drinking while driving, in Buckingham County, and has been convicted of a number of driving-related offenses, including a conviction for driving under the influence, in Cumberland and Prince Edward counties, as well as South Carolina.
Asked if more charges in connection with the Saturday hit-and-run are possible, Molnar replied that the state police are still investigating and are consulting with the commonwealth’s attorney.
On her porch, Newman’s mother was quiet Monday.
“Being angry isn’t going to bring him back,” Barbara Newman said.