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Driver blamed in wrong-way, triple-fatal crash on I-95 had no license and a warrant for her arrest

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I-95 Express Lanes crash

Wreckage at the scene of a four-vehicle, wrong-way crash in the Interstate 95 Express Lanes that claimed three lives Thursday, March 18.

The driver of the car that drove into the Interstate-95 Express Lanes in the wrong direction Thursday afternoon, causing a four-vehicle crash that claimed her life and those of two others, had no driver's license and an outstanding warrant for her arrest, according to Virginia State Police and court records.

Stephanie T. Morton, 46, of Richmond, was placed in the state’s fugitive file in December 2019 after she failed to appear for a court hearing in connection with a July 2019 charge of driving under a revoked or suspended license, according to court records.

Morton had an outstanding warrant for her arrest on the date of the fatal crash, Thursday, March 18, according to Corinne Geller, spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police.

The charge was the latest of a string of traffic infractions on Morton’s criminal record dating back to 1996. Morton had been charged with driving without a license at least five times since 2017, court records show.

She’d also been charged with speeding six times since 1999 and for giving false identification to a law-enforcement officer twice, once in 2019 and 2020, court records show.

Morton was driving a Dodge Avenger registered to Thomas H. Morton, Jr., 73, of Richmond, Geller said in an email Friday.

Reached in Richmond Friday afternoon, the elder Morton declined to comment about the crash or his relationship to the victims. 

Stephanie T. Morton refused to stop for Virginia State Troopers who began pursuing her vehicle at about 4:33 p.m. Thursday, March 18, after the Dodge Avenger she was driving was clocked going about 80 miles per hour in a 65-mph zone near exit 127 in Spotsylvania County, Geller said in a news release.

After the trooper who began the chase gave up in heavy traffic, two other troopers positioned further north on I-95 pursued Morton’s vehicle until it drove through three lighted Express Lane gates  – which are intended to stop wrong-way traffic – and entered the lanes heading north.

Traffic in the lanes was heading south, as it normally is during afternoon weekday rush hours.

Shortly after entering the lanes, the Dodge Avenger collided head-on with a Ford pickup truck driven by Kenneth E. Crosby, Jr., 61, of Montclair.

Crosby, Stephanie T. Morton, her 26-year-old passenger, Tia O. Porter, also of Richmond, all died at the scene of the crash, Geller said in a March 18 news release.

Porter was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the Dodge Avenger. The relationship between Morton and Porter has not yet been revealed by the state police.

After the initial crash, Crosby's pickup truck ran up on a guardrail. Meanwhile, two other vehicles, a 2016 Hyundai Tucson and a 2021 Volkswagen Atlas, hit the Dodge Avenger, causing it to catch fire, the release said.

The driver of the Hyundai, a 23-year-old woman from Seneca, S.C., suffered minor injuries and was transported to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center for treatment. She was wearing a seatbelt, the release said.

The driver of the Volkswagen, a 37-year-old Stafford man, and two juvenile passengers, were all treated at the scene for minor injuries. All were wearing seatbelts, the release said.

Reach Jill Palermo at jpalermo@fauquier.com

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