On February 20, a grand jury in Salem found that there was insufficient evidence for a reckless driving case involving the traffic death of a female pedestrian in December to go to trial.
After the fatal December 12 accident in which Eva Marie Johnson died, Philip Henry Peterson was charged with reckless driving. An investigation by the Salem Police Department said that Peterson was driving a van on Hemlock, had his turned signal on, and was preparing to make a right hand turn onto Roanoke Boulevard near the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center shortly after 10:15 a.m.
Sgt. T.B. Carroll Sr. interviewed Peterson and a witness and received conflicting stories. The witness said that Peterson made a rolling stop, and then began to turn and the driver’s side of the vehicle struck Johnson, who was crossing the road but was not in the crosswalk. Peterson said that Johnson ran into the roadway as he was turning and there was no possible way to avoid a collision.
Johnson was taken to Roanoke Memorial Hospital with injuries to her head and left leg, but later died of a closed-head trauma shortly before 2 p.m. after surgery, according to police.
On February 27, Salem Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Bowers issued a statement to point out that a driver must be disregarding the consequence of his actions and indifferent to another person or property’s safety in order to prove reckless driving under Virginia law.According to Salem Police, there was no evidence of Peterson driving at an excessive speed, but having his turn signal on and, according to the driver, Johnson seeming to speed up in order to get past his vehicle.