Virginia’s top mental health official, Dr. S. Hughes Melton, 52, died Friday following a three-car wreck in Augusta County on Wednesday.

Melton’s death was confirmed by Gov. Ralph Northam, who named Melton commissioner of the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services last year, “a role he filled ably and with enthusiasm,” Northam said.

“Dr. Melton for many years made his home in Southwest Virginia, where he built a well-respected career as a family physician and addiction expert,” Northam said in a statement. “Not only was Dr. Melton a devoted public servant and physician, I considered him a friend.”

Melton succumbed to injuries related to a car accident midday Wednesday that also left dead an 18-year-old Staunton woman, Hailey Green, when his car hit hers head-on while he was in the left lane of a two-lane road, according to state police.

Prior to hitting Green's car, Melton had reportedly bumped the rear of the car traveling in front of him.

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mleonor@timesdispatch.com

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Twitter: @MelLeonor_

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