Church holds vigil for Accomack crash victims

ONANCOCK, Va. (WAVY) – Friends and family of three people killed in a car crash on the Eastern Shore Saturday night held a vigil in their honor Monday. They met at Gaskins Chapel AME Church.

One of the victims was just 12-years-old. State Police said the driver of the van that hit them on Route 13 in Keller had been drinking.

Reverend Oretha Cross fielded the phone call from a church member’s relative Saturday night. She learned 12-year-old A’Janae Jones was in the car crash.

“The first thing she said was, ‘She’s gone,’ and I said, ‘She’s gone,’ and she said, ‘She’s gone.’ … To me, I felt as if I had died, as well,” she said.

Family members said A’Janae’s grandmother, 55-year-old Diann Jones and 58-year-old Arnette Chandler were also in the car, heading back from a family reunion event. The three did not survive.

According to Virginia State Police, 36-year-old Bonifilio Velazquez was driving a van in the opposite direction and crossed the line of traffic, hitting the family in the car head-on. He was not injured.

A’Janae’s uncle, Douglas Strand, said she was his sister’s only child. “She was very special to me,” he said.

He remembered their last hug and conversation.

“I said, ‘I’ll be gone tomorrow, but you have fun at your family reunion and you text me when you get home,'” Strand said.

“We’re going to light 12 candles and each candle will represent a year of her life … The last song that she led in the youth choir, several Sundays, that’s the song they’re going to sing tonight,” Rev. Cross said.

A 13-year-old boy, whom the family has identified as Wysaan Kellam, went to the hospital with serious injuries. Two other girls, ages eight and nine, also went to a hospital for treatment.

Rev. Cross said church members are working on a memorial fund for A’Janae’s family.

Velazquez is being held in the Accomack County Jail. Police have charged him with DUI and involuntary manslaughter.

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