Two men arrested following crash in Norfolk neighborhood

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Two men were arrested after a crash in the Lakewood neighborhood of Norfolk early Sunday morning.

The incident happened on Willow Wood Drive early Sunday morning. Dispatchers say a multi-vehicle accident was reported around 2:30 a.m.

The crash is being classified by police as a hit-and-run. Norfolk police spokesman Daniel Hudson says a driver hit three vehicles in the neighborhood before fleeing the scene.

Police have arrested two men: 19-year-old Austin L. Wilson and 33-year-old Jason Padilla. Wilson was charged with drunk in public and possession of alcohol. Padilla was charged with drunk in public.

Austin Wilson and Jason Padilla (Photos: Norfolk police)

Police say both Wilson and Padilla were inside the vehicle when the accident happened. No traffic charges were issued to either man because a witness said they saw a woman running from the scene, according to police.

Residents say speeding has been a reoccurring issue in the neighborhood.

“It’s an ongoing problem, my next door neighbors have little children. They can’t play in the front yard. We don’t take our dog in the front yard. We don’t go in the front yard at all. People come flying over the bridge,” says Lauren Conner, who lives on Willow Wood Drive.

Conner and her husband Nick have lived on the street since 1999. They say car crashes have become a normal part of life in the neighborhood. They were at home Sunday morning when they say a car drove through their front yard, went airborne and landed on their neighbors’ parked cars.

“I went outside to find a car on its side, three others damaged,” Conner says.

Conner says four cars were totaled and that he was surprised that no one was seriously injured in the crash. They say the community has been working to prevent this from happening for a while.

10 On Your Side spoke with Gary Bonnewell, the Lakewood Civic League president.

Bonnewell has been working for the past 15 years to get changes because there have been more than 50 accidents in the neighborhood. He also showed us a number of emails he sent to city officials asking for help and photos of numerous crashes.

Bonnewell and the Conners say their civic league has met with Norfolk city officials numerous times over the years; including a recent meeting at the Conners home earlier this week. But, there have been a few changes made to the street including the speed awareness monitor but it’s not helping. They’re asking for speed tables, which are longer than speed bumps and flat topped.

“We think a physical impediment is necessary. Would it have stopped this problem? Most likely not. Probably not but it slow 95 percent of the traffic down and prevent other accidents? We believe it would,” Conner says.

Another resident, who has lived in the neighborhood since the 1940s, says drivers should also be alerted to the speed limit changes.

“They ought to have something on the other side of the bridge warning people to go 25 miles per hour on this side when they come from Granby where it’s 35 miles per hour,” says Ann Wyn Williams.

While they say it’s only a matter of time before another car jumps a curb, takes out a light pole or hedges, and takes a life, they hope this crash highlights the need for change.

“They’re going to continue to have problems here unless it perks up to the top priority and they do something about it,” Connor says.