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Mom reflects on a son who 'loved life'

July 12, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

The choice for Terry Lee Walker Jr. was a trip to the beach with his high school buddies this summer or a trip to see his cousins.

It was a difficult decision, but he chose his cousins, said his mother, Margaret Walker. He often did.

Walker, 17, of Leetown, W.Va., was one of three people killed Wednesday in a seven-vehicle chain-reaction crash on the W.Va. 9 bridge over Opequon Creek near Baker Heights.

Carleton Wilcox, 20, who was in the Jeep with Walker, was also killed when he was ejected from the vehicle.

Marion Rao of Martinsburg, whose Toyota Corolla was struck by a dump truck just east of the bridge, was taken to City Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

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The crash occurred at around 5 p.m. Wednesday. A B.W. Strobridge Trucking dump truck collided with the Corolla, then continued onto the bridge and struck other vehicles.

Sgt. Russell Shackelford of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department said Peter Reiff, 41, of Martinsburg, who was driving a Chevrolet Corsica, was treated at City Hospital and released.

Another person was hospitalized, but Shackelford did not know that person's identity Thursday afternoon.

Chief Deputy Kenneth Lemaster of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department said county bailiff Mike Hoe's vehicle was hit as well, but he was not seriously hurt. He stopped and called for help.

The dump truck driver, Brian W. Strobridge, 37, of Martinsburg, also escaped serious injury.

Police said the dump truck apparently crossed into the opposite lane near the bridge.

The Jeep in which Wilcox and Walker were riding was crushed under the dump truck's grill.

Margaret Walker said she did not know where her son was headed Wednesday.

Terry Walker was closer to Carleton Wilcox's brother, Rahmaan, but Terry and Carleton hung out together too, Margaret Walker said.

She described Terry as very social, with "oodles of friends."

He had no siblings, but a lot of cousins. Many of them are in Columbus, Ohio, where Margaret Walker grew up, or in Georgia, where some of her family lives.

Most of Terry's cousins are younger and he enjoyed every chance he had to see them, she said.

Terry Walker graduated from Jefferson High School last month. He was taking a summer math class at Shepherd College, where he would have been a freshman in the fall.

Margaret Walker said Terry was trying to decide between studying business administration and secondary education, possibly to be a teacher.

"He was great around kids," she said.

Terry recently started a job working on banquets at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va., his mother said.

"His first day washing dishes was the other day," she said.

Margaret Walker said her son kept in touch with his girlfriend in Wheeling, W.Va., through e-mails and phone calls. They had been together for about a year.

Terry enjoyed many things.

"He loved to wrestle. He loved to dance," Margaret Walker said. "He loved life."

Attempts to reach family members of the other two victims Thursday were unsuccessful.

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