• Delivery driver spared felony count in fatal accident

    Tags: Crime

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- A Fort Story soldier working part-time as a pizza delivery driver faces two misdemeanor traffic charges in an accident that killed two 5-year-old girls on Nov. 29.

According to The Virginian-Pilot, Jon B. Schneider, 31, was charged with reckless driving and running a red light, said Commonwealth's Attorney Harvey L. Bryant III.

Schneider surrendered to police on Dec. 5, and was released on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond. He is expected in traffic court on Jan. 23.

On the evening of the accident, Schneider's sport utility vehicle struck a minivan carrying 5-year-olds Rebecca Burlingame and Julia Haynes, Rebecca's mother, a family friend and her 2-year-old son.

The collision killed the two girls, but the two adults and the boy were treated at a hospital and released.

Bryant said his office considered charging Schneider with involuntary manslaughter, which is a felony in Virginia. He decided not to do so when no evidence of criminal negligence was found; Schneider wasn't drinking, speeding, smoking or talking on a cell phone when the accident occurred, Bryant said.

"I fully understand the feelings of those in our community who believe that anyone who runs through a red light, even though unintentionally . . . does so with reckless disregard for human life," Bryant read from a statement. "However, that is not the law in Virginia."

After the accident, Laurel Cove residents complained of possible signal failures and visibility issues at the intersection, which has been the scene of about a dozen accidents each year. Traffic engineers who studied the intersection early this week found no mechanical problems with the signals nor any major visibility issues.

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