Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 5, 2014

Family of Trooper who was killed in the line of duty work to change law

TAZEWELL, Va. — On the week before Christmas, members of the family of the late Trooper Andrew David Fox of the Virginia State Police, contacted Virginia State Senator Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell to ask for his help.

According to Puckett, the family is still having a difficult time with Trooper Fox’s death, and the penalty that the person who ran over him was exposed to under law. Puckett sent a draft of the bill that came from his meeting with the Fox family to legislative services where it will be drafted in the form of a bill

“We drafted it as a misdemeanor at the time, but the family wanted it to be a felony,” Puckett said. “I made that change, sent it to legislative services and it will probably be dropped on Friday,” Puckett said. “I think it will be assigned to Courts of Justice.”

Trooper Andrew Fox was a worker, according to his mother, Julie Surface Fox. As soon as he graduated from Tazewell High School in 2003, he started working at the Town of Tazewell Police Department. Even when he started college at Virginia Tech in the fall of 2003, he continued working on weekends with the Tazewell PD, but also worked on Bill Gillespie’s cattle farm in Tazewell County.

In time, he started working at another cattle farm in Wythe County, Va., and while there, joined the Draper Volunteer Fire Department. All the while, he continued his studies at Tech where he graduated in the spring of 2006, and entered the Virginia State Police Academy that summer. He graduated from the State Police Academy in February 2007 and was assigned to serve with Fairfax Division. After serving in Fairfax, he was transferred to Division 4 of the State Police headquartered in Wytheville, Va.

On Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, Trooper Fox, 27, was one of a few Virginia State troopers who were directing traffic on Route 30, at Theme Park Way — the entrance to Meadow Event Park, site of the Virginia State Fair near Kings Dominion. At approximately 9:53 p.m., Angelica Christine Valencia of Doswell, Va., also 27 years old at the time, ran over Trooper Fox.

Two of Fox’s fellow troopers, Aaron Brenner and Justin Crawley came to their brother trooper’s assistance and lifted the 1992 Jeep Cherokee that Valencia was driving off of Fox. The trooper was transported to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, Va., where he died of the injuries he received.

The Virginia State police stated in a press release that Fox was wearing a reflective vest as he was directing traffic as he left the park. Trooper Fox’s sister, Lauren Fox, said that the Jeep’s driver was driving 37 miles-per-hour in a 35 MPH zone, and added that it was not her first time through the intersection where her brother was working.

“She knew officers were in the intersection,” Lauren Fox said. “There were two other lanes beside her that did stop.”

In February 2013, Valencia pleaded no contest in Hanover County General District Court to a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving. She received a 12-month suspended sentence and was fined $1,000. On Oct. 3, 2013, the Virginia Farm Bureau dedicated a plaque at the Meadow Event Park’s Public Safety Operations Center honoring Trooper Fox, according to an article by Portsia Smith of The Free Lance Star in Fredericksburg, Va.

“We are trying to gain official State Police support,” Lauren Fox said. “We are trying to change the law. We don’t consider what that woman did was accidental and we hope that getting this law passed will make it safer for law enforcement officers.

“It feels like we’ve been helpless through this,” Lauren Fox said. “It wouldn’t just be a law to protect law enforcement officers. We think that no on-the-job death of a firefighter, paramedic or any Department of Transportation worker is accidental. We think that this law should protect everyone whose work puts them out on the highways.”

Senator Puckett carried a memorial resolution in the state senate in 2013 that honored Trooper Fox for his sacrifice. Julie Fox, Andrew’s mother, is becoming more familiar with the legislative process as a result of this bill.

“What I’m hoping is that it (the offense level) won’t be changed to a misdemeanor,” Julie Fox said. “Inattentive drivers — if only for a few seconds — can change lives forever.”

In addition to his mother and sister, Trooper Fox is survived by his father, David Fox, an officer with the Richlands, Va., Police Department and his wife, Virginia Martin Fox.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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