cemetery crash

Cemetery overseer, Cheryl Thompson, said the blue tarp is the only thing protecting the breached vaults from the elements.

The remains of two corpses were left exposed to the elements, the airtight and watertight seals on their caskets and vaults breached, after a 2008 Honda Odyssey ran off the road and plowed through the cemetery at Lively Hope Baptist Church in Callao.

Christopher B. O’Bier, 36, was the driver, Sargeant Dylan Davenport, a Virginia State Police information officer reported. And in addition to damaging the vaults, he also knocked 13 tombstones from their settings.

Sunday morning crash

On September 19, at 6:25 a.m., Danielle O’Bier called Northumberland Sheriff’s Office and reported her van stolen, the call report shows.

About 30 minutes later, Deputy Sanford learned that Mrs. O’Bier had woke up and found her husband having a party. She kicked everyone out of the house. The report then says “possible husband took the vehicle as he is not home.”

It is unclear whether Mrs. O’Bier implicated her husband or whether that information was someone else’s observation.

Once Deputy Sanford was aware that the van in question had been wrecked in the cemetery, the matter was turned over to Virginia State Police (VSP)

It’s our office policy to not investigate reportable vehicle crashes, which are those that involve injuries or $2,000 or more in damages, unless Virginia State Police is not available, said Sheriff Johnny Beauchamp. So, “after determining the vehicle was not stolen,” the state police were dispatched and arrived at the scene about 7:20.

Mr. O’Bier was the only person in the vehicle at the time of the crash and he was wearing a seatbelt, Dylan reported.

When pressed for specifics, such as where Mr. O’Bier was when the state trooper arrived and where his summons was issued, Dylan wouldn’t provide the information and instead provided a link and invitation to file a Freedom of Information Act request. The individual who responded, Corrine Geller, said a FOIA request was unnecessary for this kind of information.

Geller proceeded to provide additional details reporting that the crash happened at 2:30 a.m.

“When the trooper arrived on scene, the driver was not with the vehicle. Further investigation led troopers to a residence approximately a mile away from the crash scene where they located the driver,” who was identified as Mr. O’Bier. This occurred at about 9 a.m. and Mr. O’Bier was given his summons at that location.

When asked how the investigating trooper, N. Hays, determined a seatbelt was worn, Dylan would only say that the information was revealed “pursuant to their investigation” but investigative techniques will not be disclosed.  

Further, VSP didn’t address multiple attempts to find out if Mr. O’Bier, who has already been convicted of a DWI, was tested for substances.

Cheryl Thompson, who oversees the church cemetery, said she spoke with the trooper, and he told her “there was alcohol involved, and the gentleman didn’t have a valid driver’s license.”

However, the only charge Mr. O’Bier has received in this case thus far is reckless driving. VSP said the investigation is ongoing.

“I think there are some things that weren’t done correctly,” said Thompson of how the police have handled the case.