by Jackie Nunnery
CALLAO—The banner inside Lively Hope Baptist Church reads “Still Standing,” but the same cannot be said for some of the headstones that surround the 77-year-old building or occupy the space across the street where the original church was built in 1886.
Over the years, a number of drivers have failed to make the turn on Lively Hope Road and instead ended up in the cemetery, often leaving the scene, and leaving family members responsible for replacing headstones and repairing damaged vaults.
The latest accident occurred on September 19 when a vehicle, allegedly driven by Christopher Bond O’Bier of Colonial Beach, ran off the road and through the church cemetery, damaging two vaults and 13 headstones, one more than 100-years-old, before coming to rest near the church. According to Northumberland County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Erin Hapgood, O’Bier was indicted by a grand jury on Tuesday, October 26, with a misdemeanor for reckless driving, a felony for failing to report an accident and a felony for destruction of property.
While this latest incident was one of the worst in terms of property damage, according to church trustee Cheryl Thompson, “This has been going on since the 1990s” with vehicles often taking out signs….[to-view-more]