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W.Va. woman killed in two-car accident

November 21, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - A Berkeley Springs, W.Va., woman died Friday as the result of a two-vehicle accident on W.Va. 9, about one mile east of the Berkeley-Morgan county line, West Virginia State Police said.

Efforts to free Hope Elaine Golden, 21, from her burning car - which included an attempt by bystanders to put out the fire with extinguishers - failed, said Trooper J.M. Droppleman.

Golden was pronounced dead at the scene, Droppleman said.

George McVey, the victim's uncle, said from her parents' house on Johnsons Mill Road that Golden was in her senior year at Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va. She was to graduate next year with a degree in education and planned on teaching elementary school, McVey said.

Golden was a member of Delta Zeta, a social sorority at Shepherd. She also was a former cheerleader at the college, her uncle said.

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The wet, slippery road appears to be the major factor in the accident, which closed W.Va. 9 for about an hour and a half, and a factor in a second, minor accident that happened behind it, he said.

The first accident happened at around 12:30 p.m., Droppleman said.

According to a witness, Golden was westbound on W.Va. 9 in a green 1995 Dodge Neon when she lost control in a sharp right curve, skidded into a guard rail, then bounced back into the middle of the road, he said.

The car collided with an eastbound 1979 Chevrolet pickup driven by Gerald Thomas Biles III, 20, of Hedgesville, Droppleman said.

The Neon, struck on the driver's side, immediately caught fire, he said.

Bystanders tried unsuccessfully to fight the fire with extinguishers, Droppleman said.

The car was fully engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived, he said.

That can happen in seconds, because cars contain highly flammable materials, including plastics, synthetic fabrics and fuels, Droppleman said.

It took firefighters a half hour to put out the fire, he said. Golden had no passengers in her car.

At this point, authorities are not sure if Golden was killed by the impact of the accident or by the fire, Droppleman said.

An autopsy may be ordered after consulting with the family, he said.

Biles and two passengers in his truck, Tommy Poole, 36, and David Markley, 16, both of Hedgesville, were taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va., according to Droppleman.

All three were treated and released, a nursing supervisor said.

No injuries were reported in the second accident, which happened when a westbound driver came around a blind curve and discovered a row of four stopped cars, Droppleman said.

The driver tried to stop, and was able to avoid three cars, but slid into the fourth, he said.

No one was charged in either accident, Droppleman said.

Staff Writer Richard F. Belisle contributed to this story.

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