Man run over while helping another on Christmas Eve in Newport News says he’s finally recovered

Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — “Praise the Lord!” Those were among the first words Chester Williams said to me when I asked him how he was doing, nearly five months after he nearly died in a crash.

Williams, 60, and another man, were both run over and dragged by an SUV, just after 5 p.m. this past Christmas Eve.

I talked with Williams by Zoom last week. We’ve been Facebook friends for years after I tried, unsuccessfully, to recruit him to play “Chess Wit Da BoyZ” and mentor teens at Newport News Juvenile Detention.

Williams was anxious to share his enthusiasm about life — especially the one he almost lost. The crash nearly destroyed his pelvis.

And, what about his recovery?

“I was bedridden … then I went to a wheelchair … then I went to a walker … then I’m leaving here tomorrow [Monday] with a ‘hurricane,'” he said, referencing his trusty walking stick that just happened to be the color — crimson — of his favorite fraternity.

Here’s what happened on that life-changing Christmas Eve.

While walking to his godmother’s house in the East End of Newport News that afternoon, Williams says he saw a middle-aged man lying in the street at 18th and Wickham Ave. Meantime, a driver stopped to ask if they needed help, then pulled her car into a position to give them some light in the darkening wintry evening.

“By this time, I had called the rescue squad, about seven blocks away … from 18th Street to 23rd. And I looked back down at the gentleman and I said ‘Sir, the rescue squad are on their way to get you out of the street.’ That’s the last thing that I remember,” Williams said.

An SUV, believed to be driven by a man in his 70s, hit both Williams and the man on the street. A witness told Williams what she saw.

“She heard a scream and then we both went underneath the car and the man was dragging us down the street underneath this SUV … and she was screaming to the top of her lungs,” he said.

He says the vehicle dragged them some distance before a witness was able to get him to stop.

Williams does remember waking up in Riverside Regional Medical Center’s emergency room that evening to find a police officer by his side.

“He asked me how long had I been on a bicycle and that kinda startled me cause I was disoriented and I said I wasn’t on a bicycle… There was a gentleman on a bicycle and I don’t know if he got hit or not. And I stopped to see if he needed assistance. And then the officer said to me ‘He’s DOA,'” Williams recounted.

That man was Joseph Robert “Joe Joe” Upchurch, of Newport News. Williams has been in touch with Upchurch’s family, and that of the man who hit him. Williams says he was told by a family member that the SUV driver died last week.

Meantime, Williams is glad to be home. He posted on his Facebook page:

“Update!!! All my paperwork was finished earlier than anticipated so I was released early. My good friend/saxophonist Michael Lambert came to pick me up since I was released early!! When I arrived home my neighbor had balloons for me, crab legs, and a birthday card! Another neighbor cried tears of joy and shouted a little bit!!! I sat outside to enjoy Gods warmth before I went inside. I proceeded to hop in my bed that I had not seen since 2019. My sister Naomi Chapman is now up in the kitchen cooking. It’s good to be home!! It’s still a little overwhelming to me what God has done since December 24, 2019.”

Chester Eugene Williams Facebook page

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