Photo: Va DBHDS

UPDATE: Governor Northam says Hughes Melton, Virginia’s Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, has died from injuries he received in an automobile accident Wednesday. The accident in Augusta County had already taken the life of an 18-year-old woman driving a second vehicle. Melton was 52.

FROM GOVERNOR NORTHAM’S OFFICE: “Pam and I are deeply saddened by the death of Dr. Hughes Melton, Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. Dr. Melton passed away today from injuries he sustained in a car accident on Wednesday. We extend our thoughts and prayers to Dr. Melton’s wife, daughters, and family and friends. We also extend our prayers and sympathies to the family of Hailey Green, a young woman from Staunton who was killed in the accident.

“Dr. Melton was a fellow veteran and physician. In 2018, I appointed Dr. Melton to serve Virginia as our DBHDS commissioner, a role he filled ably and with enthusiasm. His public service also included his previous appointment as Deputy Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Health, as well as service on a number of boards and groups devoted to improving the medical profession, health policy, and addiction treatment. Dr. Melton for many years made his home in Southwest Virginia, where he built a well-respected career as a family physician and addiction expert.

“Not only was Dr. Melton a devoted public servant and physician, I considered him a friend.

“Our thoughts are with all who knew and loved both Hughes Melton and Hailey Green.”

PREVIOUS: Virginia’s top mental health official was involved in a fatal accident yesterday in Augusta County that killed an 18-year-old woman. State Police say Samuel Hughes Melton was driving an SUV that crossed the center line and struck an oncoming car head-on. The driver of the car, Hailey Green of Staunton, died at the scene. Troopers describe Melton’s injuries as life-threatening. He is Virginia’s Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. State Police say he may have suffered a medical emergency just prior to the crash.

STATE POLICE NEWS RELEASE: Virginia State Police Trooper J. Martin is investigating a three-vehicle fatal crash in Augusta County. The crash occurred shortly before 1 p.m. on July 31, 2019 on Route 254 near Kiddsville Road. A 2018 Hyundai Tuscon was traveling east on Route 254 when it struck the rear bumper of an eastbound 2018 Subaru CrossTrek. They Hyundai crossed the center line and struck head-on a westbound 2003 Toyota Solara. The driver of the Hyundai, Samuel H. Melton, 52, of Bristol, Va., was transported to UVA Medical Center for treatment of life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Toyota, Hailey D. Green, 18, of Staunton, Va., died at the scene. The driver of the Subaru, Jean M. Scheer, 55, of Waynesboro, Va., was not injured in the crash.

All drivers were wearing seat belts. Further investigation has revealed that Melton may have suffered a medical emergency, which is being investigated as a factor in the crash.