Carol (kidcarbine) wrote,

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VCU students killed in crash

Monday, Jun 04, 2007 - 12:09 AM Updated: 11:55 AM

As they headed home from a concert in Lexington, Ky., Cayce Castelow, Benjamin Hutson and Joseph Amoury were "hootin' and hollerin'" in a voicemail message to buddy Jenn Lockwood.

"The three of them were on the road screaming into the phone at each other saying how much fun they had and how they couldn't wait to see everybody," Lockwood, a rising sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University, recalled last night.

Castelow, 19, and Hutson, 18, both of Norfolk, and Amoury, of Springfield, were killed Thursday in a two-vehicle crash in West Virginia. The collision occurred on Interstate 64 near the Sandstone/Hinton exit, police said.

"I was very good friends with all of them," a devastated Lockwood said in a telephone interview from her Norfolk home. "I guess I've known Ben since about seventh grade, and I met Cayce a few years back when he started dating her."

Hutson and Amoury were musicians. But a love of music was but one thing that bound the trio.

"All three of them were vegans and very passionate about animal rights and green living," Lockwood said. The three constantly engaged in big political discussions. Hutson's laugh was infectious. Castelow had an award-winning smile; Amoury had an understated wit that would come out of nowhere.

"They were all so smart and so active. That's why it's such a shame. These guys really wanted to make a difference," Lockwood said.

Morgan Vaughan, a classmate of the three and a theater performance major at VCU, recalled Castelow as a music lover who had still-boxed KISS dolls hanging on her wall.

"We went through first grade all the way through our first year of college together," said Vaughan, who like Castelow attended St. Pius X Catholic School and Granby High School.

"She had the most beautiful smile," Vaughan said of Castelow. "If something was wrong, all you had to do is look at her and her smile would make you happy. She was just an all-around good person. She got along with everybody."

"It is a big blow on all of us. We never ever thought anything would happen, especially like this, to her."

Just before 7 p.m., the students were traveling eastbound in a Volkswagen driven by Castelow. The driver of a tractor-trailer on the westbound lanes lost control on slick roads, crossed the median and collided with the students' car. The car went under the truck, said West Virginia State Police Cpl. G.J. Reed.

The tractor-trailer then skidded into a Subaru Forester station wagon. The driver and a passenger in that car were taken to a hospital, where they were treated and released, police said.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, 49-year-old Ruben Fuentes of Powhatan County, also was taken to a hospital, treated for minor injuries and released, Reed said. No charges have been filed.

"It looks like from eyewitnesses that the truck was not traveling recklessly or even at a high rate of speed," Reed said. "It looks like he was traveling on wet pavement and just went into a slide."

The students were rising sophomores at VCU, university spokeswoman Pamela Lepley said. Amoury, who was a member of a band called Bird Noises, was pursuing a major in arts and music performance, but he was transferring to the College of Humanities and Sciences with an undeclared major. Castelow was studying political science. Hutson was undecided on his major.

Lepley said VCU officials have been in touch with the families.

Mike Raftery, a security guard at VCU's Gladding Residence Center, also knew the victims. Amoury and Hutson performed at his Jackson Ward home.

He called it another blow among a local community of musician-activists still reeling from the accidental death of Jonathan "Jonny Z" Zanin in a bicycle accident last month on the Boulevard Bridge.

"It's a sad thing with kids like that," he said. "It's totally random and quite hurtful."
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