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Effort yields arrests, traffic violations

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By Tom Wilmoth

A recent DUI sobriety checkpoint, held on Aug. 30, yielded numerous traffic violations and even some criminal activity.

According to authorities, some 75 traffic summonses or arrests were a result of the effort on Route 24 the end of last month.

The checkpoint was a joint effort between the Virginia State Police and the Bedford County Sheriff's Office, according to First Sgt. Michael Bailey with the State Police.

"People need to take responsibility for their driving behaviors," Bailey said of the effort, in which some 5,000 vehicles went through the checkpoint at Stewartsville Road, which was set up from 6-10 p.m. He said the goal is to take measures to reduce fatalities in the region.

So far this year there have been 15 fatalities in crashes in Franklin and Bedford counties, six of those in Bedford county. Bailey said that rate is less than 1 percent of the more than 850 crashes per year in each county.

"That's good news," he said, but added that there is a "zero tolerance" on fatalities. "One is too many," he said.

The most recent fatality in Bedford County occurred on Friday, Aug. 22, around 8:30 p.m. when a motorcycle was struck in the rear by a pickup truck in the Villamont area. Struck and killed on the motorcycle was Hilton Holdren III, 46, of Roanoke. His motorcycle was allegedly struck by a Nissan pickup truck driven by Matthew Sayers, 27, of Thaxton, according to Bailey. Sayers has been charged with DUI of drugs and the investigation is ongoing, Bailey said.

Bailey said the checkpoints will continue and are an important part in educating vehicle operators about taking responsibility. Following the Aug. 30 effort, remaining units on duty went out and did a saturation patrol.

Other agencies participating in the effort included the Virginia Department of Transportation and local fire and rescue squads. "It was a very good effort," Bailey said. A total of 17 officers worked at the checkpoint.

Bailey said the checkpoint yielded two DUI arrests and eight criminal charges, ranging from fugitives to drugs. There were also a host of traffic violations cited.

"A primary way to deal with fatalities is to educate the public," he said. "The public needs to take personal responsibility toward safer driving habits."

Bailey said seat belt usage is vital. "I've seen so many innocent people killed because of not taking a few seconds to buckle a seat belt," he said.

Combining the resources of the State Police and the Sheriff's Office allows for a more aggressive effort, Bailey added. He expects more checkpoints to be conducted in the near future.