Springing into Action

Community

Hashtags on cars and bracelets bring awareness to the needs of the families and warm hearts as they’re seen around town.

Community support for teens injured in auto accident and advocacy for traffic safety explode

On September 21, there was a horrific auto accident near The Plains at the intersection of Route 17 and Route 245. Two Fauquier High School students, Hannah Meixner and Josue Salamanca, who were returning home from a volleyball game at Wakefield School were very seriously injured.

At press time, Hannah is recovering at home, receiving visitors and working on schoolwork remotely, and Josue has been transferred to MedStar National Rehab where he is undergoing further care.

What followed was an outpouring from the community: support for the families, widespread support for a traffic change at that intersection, support from all the schools in the area, and a heartfelt thankfulness for our first responders whose efforts saved lives that day.

“We have true superheroes out there. I don’t remember every unit that responded to the accident, but it was more than the Fauquier County rescue teams. Their response and capabilities saved their lives. Also true angels are the people first on the scene that stayed with and comforted the kids until help arrived,” said Meredith Meixner, Hannah’s mother. “It’s just an incredible group of people.”

One of the first things that was done was setting up GoFundMe pages for both Hannah and Josue to help with medical expenses. An outpouring of food and prepared dinners followed, so much at Josue’s house that they ran out of room to store it. Community support for change at that intersection grew, and the kids sprang into action.

Hannah and Josue, both Juniors at Fauquier High who have been friends since kindergarten, are both talented athletes — Hannah in volleyball and Josue in track — who are working toward playing in college and possible athletic scholarships. Hannah attended Wakefield School before starting at FHS last year, and as a player on the local Dynamix club volleyball team, had friends at Highland School too. Kids from all three high schools began raising awareness and support through school activities, flyers, social media, and hashtags painted on car rear windshield and printed on bracelets and encouraging public support for change at the intersection.

Hannah and Josue

The hard part for the kids: missing their friends while they recover. According to Nick Savarino, one of Josue’s best friends, a 5K fundraiser is a possibility in the future, a nod to Josue’s track talent. Nick said, “I really miss Josue. We would hang out all day every day. He influenced me a lot. He got me a job at Walmart, he got me to go to the gym, and he’s convinced me to do track. We were able to FaceTime him the other day, so that was good for his spirits.”

Gigi Lostracco, one of Hannah’s best friends, said, “Volleyball isn’t in season right now, but everybody misses her. She’s been guaranteed a spot of the team when we start up again, even if she can’t play, as a team manager, because she’s such a big part of the team and we’ve been playing with her for so many years.”

As far as progress on a traffic change at the intersection, where there have been many accidents, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors is on board for change, led by Holder Trumbo of the Marshall District who has been trying for years to bring attention to the danger. Also supporting a change are Sheriff Mosier, Dr. Jeck, superintendent of Fauquier County Public Schools, and the heads of Wakefield School, Highland School, and Fauquier High School, among many others.

Close friends of Hannah and Josue in a television interview with Julie Carey of NBC. L-R: Abby Christensen, Gigi Lostracco, Lauren Mehl, Emory Lillard, Nick Savarino, and Ethan Perez

This intersection is not near the top of VDOT’s list for changes, but they are opening and reviewing the study, perhaps considering a roundabout. The next step, Kate says, is to gain attention and support at the state level. Ashley Harper, head of Wakefield School, is working with Jill Vogel in Richmond to keep the ball rolling. Two parents in particular are also active in this cause. “I call Kate and Clara my Intersection Warriors,” says Meredith, “because they are pushing so hard for this.”

Kate Lostracco, Gigi’s mother, said, “Josue and Hannah are both great students, excellent athletes, from loving hard working families. Gigi says Josue loves his car and is a very safe, careful driver. This horrible twist of fate could have happened to any of our young drivers in Fauquier county. They weren’t reckless or drunk or high or tired. They were simply young and in love teenagers out supporting their friends at a volleyball game. In all this I hope that every parent who reads the article can see their own children reflected in Josue and Hannah and feel that it’s our job as parents and members of this community to make sure we do what we can to keep our kids safe.”

What can you do?

  • Donate at gofundme towards mounting medical bills
  • Continue to raise awareness for change at this intersection.
  • Keep an eye on our local press for updates on meeting times where support and speakers are needed.
  • Write to Richmond in support of change.
  • Keep an eye out for a social media page for the traffic change, in the works.
  • Keep an eye out for a petition to be circulated, in the works.
  • Run in the 5K being planned by Josue’s friends, in the worksShow support for the families by painting their hashtags on your rear windshield which, as Meredith says, really warms her heart as she sees it around town.
  • Talk with your student drivers about slowing down and driving carefully.

gofundme.com/f/love-4hannah
gofundme.com/f/prayforswayy
#prayforswayy #prayforhannah

Write to: 

Senator Jill Vogel (27th District)
Senate of Virginia
General Assembly Building
Room 612
Richmond, VA 23218

Delegate Michael Webert
Pocahontas Building
900 E. Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219

Pam Kamphuis
About Pam Kamphuis 132 Articles
Pam Kamphuis is an editor and writer for Piedmont Virginian Magazine and Piedmont Lifestyle Magazines.

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