Troutville woman dies in I-64 wreck, state police say

A firefighter and paramedic from Troutville was killed Sunday on Interstate 64 in Albemarle County when police said a wrong-way driver caused a head- on collision. State Police were alerted to a pickup truck driving recklessly in the westbound lanes of the interstate just after 6 a.m. When officers pursued the vehicle, the driver , Winston Smith, 32, of Staunton, crossed the median into the eastbound lanes and drove the wrong way, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said .

Smith’s Isuzu truck struck a Hyundai sedan driven by Bethany Franklin which was heading eastbound. The collision caused both vehicles to strike a Ford F-150 pickup truck. Franklin, 30, of Troutville, died at the scene, as did Smith.

The driver of the Ford F-150, identified as an adult male, was transported to the University of Virginia Medical Center with injuries described by police as minor. Bedford County Fire Marshal Jeff Pauley said Sunday that Franklin was hired in 2009 by Bedford County Fire & Rescue as a firefighter and paramedic. “She was a great employee,” Pauley said. “She was one of our earlier hires when we first started hiring career staff.”

Franklin continued to work part-time for the county after returning to school more than a year ago, Pauley said. She was stationed at the Moneta Volunteer Fire Department for a number of years, he said. In a Facebook post Sunday, the Moneta department sent condolences to Franklin’s family and said Franklin “will be missed by many.”

Pauley described Franklin as “extremely professional” and would not hesitate to “get in and get her hands dirty” when it came to emergency services. “She was awesome,” he said. “She was a wonderful person. It’s certainly a shock to everyone in our system.” Police still are investigating the crash .

Both drivers who died in the accident were wearing seat belts.

The (Charlottesville) Daily Progress contributed to this report.

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