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Police ID man injured in fatal crash

2013_08_05_Drowning_Follow2.jpg
A cross of flowers marks the scene where two Warren County teenagers drowned Saturday night after their vehicle ran off the Morgan Ford Bridge and overturned into the Shenandoah River. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

2013_08_05_Drownings_Follow1.jpg
Cheyenne Midkiff, 17, of Front Royal, walks past the scene on Morgan Ford bridge where her two friends drowned Saturday night. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)


By Joe Beck

State police Monday identified the third victim in a single-car crash that killed two people Saturday night on the low-water bridge on Morgan's Ford Road near Front Royal.

The victim, Tony William Hatfield, 49, of Front Royal, was taken to Winchester Medical Center. Sgt. F.L. (Les) Tyler, said Hatfield's condition was unknown.

Hatfield was a passenger in a 1995 Honda driven by Coty James Ferguson, 18, of Front Royal, when the southbound car went off the bridge over the Shenandoah River just after 11 p.m. Ferguson and a passenger, Robert Allen Jeffries Jr., 17, died from injuries they received when the car flipped and landed in the water, according to state police.

Tyler said alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

Warren County Fire and Rescue Service Chief Richard E. Mabie said in a news release that a civilian passerby helped pulled one of the victims from inside the car. Mabie said the passerby entered the water, broke out a window on the Honda and removed an occupant from inside.

Mabie said the victim was conscious and breathing but in "extreme respiratory distress."

Members of other law enforcement and fire and rescue agencies arriving at the scene included a Warren County sheriff's deputy who removed one of the occupants from the car and assisted in pulling the third occupant to a safe area.

Mabie said both of the last two occupants pulled from the car were in cardiac and respiratory arrest. Civilians and sheriff's deputies started CPR in an effort to revive them, Mabie said.

Ferguson and Jeffries were pronounced dead at Warren Memorial Hospital, fire and rescue officials said.

Capt. Kevin Catlett of Warren County Fire and Rescue Services said in an interview Monday the male passerby immediately went into the water after seeing the Honda go off the north end of the bridge.

Catlett said fire officials were still trying to learn the name of the passerby Monday. Catlett praised the man's quick reaction to the emergency.

"To be a passerby and take those measures, it's pretty outstanding," Catlett said.

Catlett said the river was flowing normally under the bridge at the time of the accident and rain that fell much of last week did not affect water conditions during the rescue operation.

Catlett listed 13 emergency service units that responded to the accident. They included the Virginia State Police; swift water rescue teams from Warren County; two dive teams from Frederick County; fire companies from Front Royal, Shenandoah Shores and North Warren in Warren County; the Mount Weather Fire Department in Clarke County; the Stephens City Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company; and the Middletown Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com


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