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Trooper report released on death

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A man said he saw someone skateboarding in the middle of the road just before a State Police car struck and killed a 12-year-old boy in Beckley last month, according to a State Police report on the incident.

Also, a friend of Curtis Webb, the boy killed on March 22, posted a video on the Internet of a teenager running across a five-lane road at night, apparently in the same area where Webb was killed.

Webb was struck around midnight by a State Police cruiser driven by Trooper H.D. Stone. State Police released a report on the accident Wednesday.

According to the report, Travis Lester told police he was driving through the area where the accident occurred on his way to Raleigh General Hospital and saw three teenage boys on skateboards on the far left curb of the road.

One of the boys was about 100 yards behind the other two and skated in the middle turning lane on the main road, Lester told Trooper C.H. Mitchell, who wrote the report. Lester told police that shortly afterward, he saw a State Police trooper traveling in the southbound lane.

The video, which was not part of the State Police report, was on the MySpace.com page of a teen who had changed his profile name to R.I.P. Curtis Webb.

The video shows a teenager, identified as Doctor Webb, run across a five-lane road at night in front of a car, which slows down. Curtis Webb is shown in the video just after; he was not on the road.

The video, which was found by a Gazette reporter, has since been taken down.

The footage has nothing to do with the accident, said Larry Webb, Curtis' father.

"To me if someone else was able to see him, why couldn't [the trooper] have seen him?" Webb said.

According to the State Police report, 16-year-old Justin Smith was with Curtis Webb and his 17-year-old brother Michael Webb that night.

Smith told police the three of them were going to Wal-Mart, but that Curtis stayed behind at a church near where the accident happened. The other two went to Wal-Mart to get a pack of cigarettes, according to the report.

When they got out they saw the lights from the accident and said they hoped that Curtis wasn't in trouble for riding his skateboard, Smith told police in the report.

Stone, the state trooper, says in the report that he was traveling in the left southbound lane of Robert C. Byrd Drive at about 45 miles per hour when he heard a loud bang and saw that his windshield was broken.

He turned around and activated his lights and saw Curtis Webb in the road. There were no skid marks found at the scene, which is consistent with an accident at that speed, Mitchell wrote in the report.

"I ran to him and a nurse had stopped. She said that he had a pulse," Stone said in the report. "I returned to my car to call for help. I then took my jacket and the nurse got a blanket and we tried to wrap him up to keep him warm. A short time after that the nurse said she couldn't find a pulse."

Tracks from the skateboard were found in dirt in the middle lane of the road, according to the report.

"There was dirt and cinders left over from spreading gravel in the winter," Sgt. C.P. Mueller, who arrived shortly after the accident and took part in the investigation, told the Gazette Wednesday. "You could see where the wheels went through and where it stopped."

Mueller said he didn't fault Webb for being in the road.

"We've all been that age, we all do stuff at that age," he said. "He was out having fun and didn't realize the dangers involved. That comes from being youthful, unfortunately."

The accident greatly affected all of the officers there that night, Mueller said.

"I had tears in my eyes like everybody else," he said. "I've got four kids of my own. It was just terrible. ... Everyone there was concerned about the little fella that passed away and the family. [Stone] is a young trooper. He was tore up."

Larry Webb said he didn't think the investigation into his son's death was handled correctly. "It took three weeks before the accident report was released," he said.

To contact staff writer Gary Harki, use e-mail or call 348-5163.


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