NOCKS LANDING ROAD MANSLAUGHTER TRIAL: Impact noise of vehicle hitting woman ‘like an explosion’

Erika Cherrelle Bailey

BY STEFANIE JACKSON, Eastern Shore Post —

The trial of the Atlantic woman who was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the vehicular death of Erika Bailey, 27, of Parksley, began in Accomack County Circuit Court Thursday, March 28.

Jessica Greenley Waterfield, 36, also was charged with reckless driving and careless driving in the incident that killed Bailey and hospitalized her boyfriend, Duane Lee Turner, and 6-year-old daughter.

The couple was walking on Nocks Landing Road, accompanying the child as she rode a bicycle, on the afternoon of April 12, 2023.

The three were hit by a white 2021 Honda Pilot sport utility vehicle that Waterfield was driving east toward the intersection of Nocks Landing Road and Atlantic Road, near the post office.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Spencer Morgan, in his opening statement for the prosecution at her trial, said the “controversy” in the case was not about whether Waterfield’s vehicle struck and killed Bailey but the “amount of care in operation the defendant put in her vehicle.”

Morgan argued that Waterfield “threw caution to the wind” and was driving too fast and, by her own admission, was distracted by her 3-year-old daughter who was secured in the back seat.

He said that portion of Nocks Landing Road is a “straight shot” and Waterfield should have been able to see the victims on the side of the road on the day that was “clear and sunny.”

Waterfield’s attorney, Thomas Northam, said the defendant was traveling east on Nocks Landing Road, bringing a dinner, which she had prepared, to her parents’ house in Atlantic.

Neither drugs nor alcohol were a factor in the crash, and Waterfield was not calling or texting on her phone at the time of the crash, Northam said.

The speed limit on Nocks Landing Road changes from 55 mph to 40 mph to 25 mph just before the stop sign at the intersection.

Northam said Waterfield had admitted to traveling about 50 mph in the 40-mph zone.

He said a witness for the prosecution would testify that she was traveling around 55 mph but that she did not reach the threshold of a charge of reckless driving by speed.

As Waterfield was driving, her sleeping daughter began coughing. Her “breathing was not normal,” Northam said.

The car had a camera used to monitor the child in the backseat, but Waterfield could not see it due to the glare of the setting sun. She turned back to touch her child’s toes and head and wake her.

As soon as she turned back around, “that’s when the people were there,” Northam said.

Turner had previously testified that he, Bailey, and her daughter were leaving his mother’s house to go for a walk and had “basically walked out the driveway a couple feet” when the accident occurred.

They had been walking east on Nocks Landing Road, with their backs to oncoming traffic, Northam said.

Virginia State Trooper Cody Corbin testified that he arrived on the scene around 6:36 p.m., about 10 minutes after the crash.

He saw the Honda Pilot with blood on the passenger side and Bailey’s body on the side of the road.

Data that he downloaded from the SUV’s computer system showed the vehicle was traveling at 55 mph at the time of impact.

There was no evidence that Waterfield had strayed from her travel lane, and the downloaded data showed the vehicle’s lane departure warning system had not signaled a warning, Corbin said.

The vehicle was equipped with a forward collision warning system, which tells the driver if a hazard is in front of the vehicle. Neither did that system signal a warning, he said.

Katie Farrell testified that she was driving home from Chincoteague that day, traveling west on Nocks Landing Road, at the time of the crash.

She said that just as she was about to pass the white SUV as it proceeded east, she heard “like an explosion … a loud noise.”

Farrell pulled over to the side of the road and called 9-1-1.

She saw Turner and the 6-year-old child in the ditch on the other side of the road, and Bailey was on the other side of Townsend Lane, which runs north to Nocks Landing Road.

Farrell said she watched as Turner rose from the ditch, stumbled, and walked over to Bailey and “grabbed her in his arms.”

The trial was ongoing at press time on Thursday.

Previous articleJune Soud
Next articleEastern Shore Post | March 29, 2024