UPDATE: Mother, Son Killed in I-77 Crash Remembered

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UPDATE 12/12/14 @ 6:10 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Family and friends of two of the five victims in a deadly crash that happened last Saturday on Interstate 77 gathered Friday at First Baptist Church in Charleston to say goodbye.

Dozens of people attended a memorial service for Vivien Easton, 46, and her son, Devon Easton Badger, 15.

"This was definitely unexpected, but a going home," said Devon's father, Anthony Badger. "I believe they both knew their final destination. Heaven was always going to be the mark. And it's true, a true celebration today for both of their lives, Vivien and Devon."

Anthony, along with Vivien's sister and a longtime friend, spoke at the service, sharing memories of the mom and son.

"We're playing basketball, and I made a shot that probably I shouldn't have made," Badger said. "And he looked at me with such a look as if to say 'How did you do that?' And I let him know that you have to be walking with the lord for that. So that may have been the beginning of him seeking the Lord."

Badger says his son was very active in sports and in the church. He describes Devon as outgoing and athletic.

"I think more than anything, he's kind of a computer wizard," Badger said. "He had this wonderful personality. And he seemed to be a very giving guy. He loved everyone around. He just did. But more so than anything, I think he just smiled and lit up the room wherever he went."

They were very similar characteristics Badger used to describe Devon's mother, Vivien Easton.

"She was very, very outgoing. She worked down at the University. He got to spend a lot of his time down at the University. So, he was very smart. She was smart in school. I'm not sure what he picked up from me, but I like to believe that I contributed."

Three other people died in Saturday's crash. A sixth person in the SUV and a man driving a truck the SUV hit both survived.



UPDATE 12/8/14 @ 11:55 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The principal and staff of Stonewall Jackson Middle School held a candle light vigil for one of the victims of Saturday's fatal crash on Interstate 77.

More than 100 classmates, friends and family members of 14-year-old Tahj Claiborne gathered on the school's front lawn to honor his memory.

"He was always a heart-warming person and would always cheer you up," said his friend Antonio Patterson. "It wouldn't matter if someone else died, he would still cheer you up and put a smile on your face.

Tahj was killed Saturday in a car crash, along with his aunt, uncle, cousin and a family friend. They were his cousin Savannah Taylor's immediate family. They were all headed to Wheeling to watch Savannah cheer on the South Charleston Black Eagles.

With family by her side, Savannah had the chance to remember just how special her cousin was.

"He was funny and always trying to make someone's day," Taylor said.

A pastor and community member spoke in Tahj's honor, and the entire crowd sang "Amazing Grace."

Many friends and family said that even while dealing with such sudden shock, they will cling to their faith and each other to keep Tahj's memory alive.



UPDATE 12/8/14 @ 6:10 p.m.
JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Investigators are working to determine what caused a crash that killed five people and injured two others during the weekend.

West Virginia State Police say it was a combination of factors.

The steady rain and wet roads Saturday proved to be a recipe for disaster when the driver of an SUV traveling on I-77 North, lost control, went into the median and crashed through the barrier.

"The barrier did connect with the vehicle in some fashion, but then not enough to stop it and keep it from going to the other side," West Virginia State Police Lt. Michael Baylous said.

The SUV was then t-boned by an oncoming truck.

Cable barriers are placed throughout West Virginia in areas known for bad accidents, and troopers say they're usually very effective.

"No matter what you put in, it's not going to be 100 percent successful," Baylous said.

In this case, investigators say the sixth straight day of rain caused the ground to be saturated, so the poles supporting the cables were unable to handle the amount of force that hit them. They say the slippery pavement also played a role.

"It's quite possible that the vehicle may have been somewhat airborne and just caught a portion of that barrier system," Baylous said.

West Virginia Department of Transportation officials say the SUV did pull about 170 feet of cable, some of which even wrapped around the bottom the vehicle. However, it wasn't enough to hold the vehicle back.

"Perfect storm is a great way to describe it," Baylous said. "There's just so many combinations of factors that could have been at play here. It's unfortunate, and these families have been experiencing a lot of grief, and you just feel so much for them."

The five who died along with another person were on their way to the state high school football championship.

The next step is working to figure out what can be done to make this area safer. WVDOT officials are already looking to see if there's anything that could make those barriers even stronger.

They say that stretch of road may also be a good candidate for the new high friction surface treatment, which is a type of pavement that prevents vehicles from slipping in wet conditions.

All of those decisions will be made after the investigation into this crash wraps up.

The victims who did not survive are:

  • Vivien Easton, 46, of Charleston
  • Devon Easton Badger, 15, of Charleston
  • Walter Taylor, 48, of Charleston
  • Tahj Claiborne, 14, of Charleston
  • Wallace Worrell, 50, of Charleston

Family members tell WSAZ that Nate Williams was the other person in the SUV. They say he was taken to the hospital, but has a long road to recovery.

Troopers say Ryan Cline, 46, from Washington, West Virginia, was the driver of the truck. He was taken to the hospital, but his condition is unknown.



UPDATE 12/6/14 @ 11:07 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- As the family of Devon Easton Badger sat at a youth church service in his honor, it was words of hope, and those around them, who are helping them through.

"You never know how many people care about you until you have something like this happen," said Margaret Easton, Devon's aunt.

Easton knew something was wrong Saturday when she couldn't get ahold of her sister Vivien.

"I started calling and the line just kept going straight to her voicemail," said Easton.

She soon heard the news: Vivien and four others were killed in an tragic accident.

"It's like a nightmare," said Easton. "It's like, 'I want to wake up now because I'm tired of having this dream.'"

"I just dropped to the ground and was like, 'I don't want to go. I don't want to go see them,'" said Savannah Taylor.

The terrible crash took the life of Taylor's mother, father, brother, and cousin.

"I'm not going to cry; I know they're in a better place," said Taylor. "God just needed a few more angels."

The family has seen that not all angels are in heaven though; many are among them. They are friends bringing food and strangers gathering funds to pay for funerals. A GoFundMe account set up currently has over $14,000.

"The cell phone was ringing. The house phone was ringing. Texting was coming in," said Easton.

As the the family mourns, they also find comfort knowing they are not alone.


UPDATE 12/6/14@3:10 p.m.
JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Another person has died after a crash on Interstate 77.

West Virginia State Police say an adult female, two adult males, and two teenage boys, all traveling in the same vehicle, were killed in the crash.

The victims who did not survive include:
Vivien Easton, 46, of Charleston
Devon Easton Badger, 15, of Charleston
Walter Taylor, 48, of Charleston
Tahj Claiborne, 14, of Charleston
Wallace Worrell, 50, of Charleston

The Jackson County Sheriff's office says the two-vehicle crash happened at mile marker 143 between Ravenswood and Ripley.

An SUV traveling north on I77 lost control and veered into the southbound lane, striking a pickup truck. The SUV had six people inside, five of which were killed. Another person and the driver of the truck were transported to an area hospital.

Both southbound lanes were shut down and one northbound lane was closed while state police investigated.

It is still unclear as to what caused the crash.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com and the WSAZ Mobile App for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 12/6/14 @12:18 p.m.
JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Four people have died and three are injured after a crash on Interstate 77.

The Jackson County Sheriff's office says the two-vehicle crash happened at mile marker 143 between Ravenswood and Ripley.

An SUV traveling north on I77 lost control and veered into the southbound lane, striking a pickup truck. The SUV had six people inside, four of which were killed. The two others as well as the driver of the truck were transported to an area hospital.

No names have been released yet.

Both southbound lanes were shut down and one northbound lane was closed while state police investigated.

It is still unclear as to what caused the crash.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com and the WSAZ Mobile App for the latest information.



 
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