ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) - A 20-year-old Isle of Wight County woman passed away following a crash on the James River Bridge.
The crash occurred around 8:30 p.m. Monday in the southbound lanes of the James River Bridge, Sgt. Allen Williams with Virginia State Police told WAVY.com. A single vehicle lost control on the drawbridge section and struck the median.
Kayla Williams suffered major injuries and was transported to Riverside Regional Medical Center. She passed away from those injuries Tuesday.
Sgt. Williams said she was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. Troopers do not believe alcohol or speed were factors.
Kayla's father, Carlton told 10 On Your Side his daughter was always afraid of traveling over the James River Bridge. She had to drive over the JRB to get to and from her job at Banfield Animal Hospital in Hampton.
Photos, and memories are all Kayla Williams'family has to hold onto.
"Every picture I have of her you see her smiling," Carlton said.
Carlton and his wife Jenny Williams say they were on the James River Bridge the night their daughter died, which adds to their heartbreak.
"I had actually come across the bridge that evening when she had the accident, and seen her," Williams said. "I passed her ambulance on the way to the bridge."
The Williams family did not know at the time that Kayla was in the ambulance until they drove past her white SUV on the bridge.
"I knew in my heart it was her," said Carlton.
The Williams family tells WAVY.com they believe the new steel grid deck on the JRB is to blame for their daughter's death. Several WAVY viewers have also asked about crashes on the bridge since the grid was replaced in 2012 .
"Everybody knows that when you get on that grid you are moving back and forth," Williams mother Jenny Williams said. "If its raining it's not safe."
VDOT officials say the agency has seen an increase of accidents on the James River Bridge since March, and they are currently doing a safety analysis to see if changes need to be made on the bridge.
"At the beginning of March is when we started seeing an increase in accidents around the grid deck area," VDOT spokesperson Lauren Hansen said. "That's when we started to do further analysis.
Hansen says early reports have not found the steel grid to be dangerous.
"So far we have not found that correlation," Hansen said. "We are continuing to do a further analysis."Because there is this uptick in accidents, we do want to err on the side of caution."
In the meantime, VDOT has dropped the speed on the JRB from 55 miles to 45 miles during inclement weather.
WAVY News' Lauren Compton has confirmed with Virginia State Police a safety investigation will be conducted on the new grid.
Kayla Williams was an organ donor, and through her death, she saved the lives of six people. This Saturday Lifenet will hold a ceremony with at Riverside Hospital where they will give the Williams' family a lock of Kayla's hair and a picture of her hand prints as a sign of gratitude for the lives she saved.
The Williams' family is holding a memorial service for Kayla on July 12 at Colonial Funeral home in Smithfield.
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