SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A man accused in a crash that left a postal worker with lifelong injuries was just removed from the streets — seven months after he allegedly hit a mail truck while driving without a license.
“I see a vehicle that’s not moving over, and it’s coming directly at me,” Tavora Powell said.
Just moments later, Powell’s life changed forever. The postal worker of 15 years was delivering mail on U.S. 460 on Sept. 13 when a man driving an SUV crashed into her truck.
“The truck just flipped and flipped, and I was like, as long as I don’t lose consciousness and I hold onto this steering wheel, I’m going to be OK,” Powell said.
All Powell wanted to do in that moment was survive. What she didn’t know was that her long road to recovery — which, so far, has included two major surgeries and weekly physical therapy — would be nothing compared to her difficult path to justice.
“I want to see him off the street,” she said. “My life was saved, and I don’t want him to go out and do it to somebody else.”
The crash report lists Abraham Applewhite as the driver of the SUV. Applewhite is well known to the Suffolk Police Department. Since 2012, his driving-related convictions include driving without insurance, driving without a license, and failing to stop at the scene of an accident. He’s been in jail 13 times over the last 23 years: Twice for driving without a license and six times for failing to appear in court.
“The man should’ve never been out there driving,” Powell said.
Powell and Applewhite were both seriously injured in the crash. Applewhite was airlifted from the scene of the crash to a hospital. Police did not issue warrants for his arrest immediately.
About two months after the crash, Suffolk police contacted Applewhite while he was at his son’s home. Body camera footage obtained by 10 On Your Side’s investigative team shows an officer warning Applewhite that he would be charged in the crash and asking him to turn himself in. Applewhite agreed but never did.
“You can’t drive. You gotta stop driving,” the officer told Applewhite. “You’re gonna get yourself hurt or somebody else seriously hurt.”
Warrants related to the crash wouldn’t be issued until January, and they wouldn’t be served to Applewhite until April. He’s charged with two counts of driving with a revoked license, driving without insurance, and driving a car without registration or plates.
Despite the officer’s warning, Applewhite didn’t stop driving. Court records show that in early January, he was charged again on a different offense of driving without a license. He was due in court to face that charge in April but was a no-show.
A judge issued a capias for his arrest after he failed to appear in court in April, but before the paperwork was processed, officers found Applewhite and served him the warrants related to the crash. Even though he hadn’t appeared in court in April, he was released on summons again. He was due to appear in court on the charges related to the crash on Thursday but failed to appear again.
“That warrant did not exist at the time of serving the other warrants,” Suffolk spokesperson Tim Kelley wrote in an email.
10 On Your Side learned that police were able to arrest Applewhite on Friday in a jurisdiction outside of Suffolk. Court records do not show when he’s scheduled to appear in court next.
“He just needs to be off the street before he hurts somebody else,” Powell said.
10 On Your Side attempted to contact Applewhite through an attorney representing him in the January case but were unable to reach him for comment.