Community runs to remember
Franklin Jackson leads members of the Sedgefield Community in a moment of prayer in front of the Ashland Police Station Saturday to honor the memory of Meg Menzies, whose husband Scott Menzies is a sergeant with the APD. Community members had done a two-mile walk through town before arriving, one of several local, organized tributes Saturday.
From the tight-knit Ashland community to the far reaches of the Twittersphere, thousands of individuals paid tribute over the weekend to Margaret “Meg” Menzies, the Hanover mother of three killed while jogging alongside Route 54 near Hanover Courthouse last week.
News about Menzies’ death spread through social media like wildfire and hit the region’s running community especially hard. Once David Hylton,
co-founder of the Twitter chat called Run Chat and a Richmond resident, heard about the tragedy on Facebook, he said he was “horrified” and began sharing the hashtag for Menzies, #megsmiles, on the Twitter handle’s page, which has more than 18,000 followers.
Jan. 18, when people all across the world participated in #megsmiles and ran as much as they could, Hylton and a friend ran with 23 individuals in Richmond.
“The running community always comes together in the face of tragedy. Fast or slow, milers or marathoners, we’re in this together,” Hylton said.
Menzies died Jan. 13 after being struck by a 2008 Toyota Sequoia in the area of E. Patrick Henry Road and Hickory Hill Road. The driver of the car, Michael Carlson, 47, of the 10000 block of Studley Acres Lane in Mechanicsville, was charged with driving under the influence and involuntary manslaughter related to the crash. According to a criminal complaint filed with Hanover General District Court, Carlson was on his way to work in Ashland, where he practices internal medicine, when he reached down to adjust the radio and ran off the road. Just prior to exiting the roadway, he observed a jogger and was unable to avoid hitting them.
The responding deputy observed a moderate odor of alcohol and noted that Carlson’s speech was slurred, his eyes were red when exiting the vehicle and he was unsteady on his feet. According to the complaint, Carlson told the officer that he had been drinking the night before until approximately 10 p.m. but hadn’t had any alcohol since then.
A preliminary breath test, or Breathalyzer, put Carlson’s blood-alcohol content at the time of the crash at .13, above the legal limit of .08. After further tests, his BAC was recorded at .11, still above the legal limit.
A search of Carlson’s car recovered a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a bottle of Prednisone and sample pack of Levitra, two non-narcotic prescription medicines. The Hanover Sheriff’s Office also seized Carlson’s cellular phone.
Carlson was arraigned Jan. 14, released on bond and will return to court in April.
While he awaits his next court appearance, the Hanover and Ashland communities continue to mourn the loss of a woman said to be an inspiration to those around her.
Runners with the Patrick Henry Family YMCA in Ashland, where Meg Menzies worked, pose by a sign at the entrance Saturday before starting their run in her memory.
Reached Monday, fellow Hanoverian Peyton McLaughlin said she found out about the incident from her family members who knew the runner. McLaughlin said that Menzies was an inspiration to her and many others.
“Meg has inspired many people to get out and run and live the healthy lifestyle she did, because as we know, it could all be taken away in an instant,” she said.
McLaughlin ran alongside a group of community members Saturday and said this has been a learning experience for her.
“Do not take what you have now for granted, because that doesn’t always mean you will have it in the future,” she said.
Meg’s story also traveled farther than the Richmond region, impacting one man from Toronto, Canada. Andrew Chak, like Hylton, learned about the #megsmiles run and her story on Facebook. He said he was invited to last weekend’s event on the social media platform and instantly was sympathetic.
“First of all, Meg was a runner and that immediately creates a connection as we can all relate to her in some way,” Chak said.
Chak said that what happened to Menzies could have happened to anyone adding that the running community can learn something from this tragedy.
“It’s a stark reminder for us to take every precaution to plan out a safe route and to make sure that we’re constantly aware of our surroundings and to ensure that we’re always visible,” Chak said. “On the positive side, it is also a reminder as to the kinship with which runners share with one another which is one of many inspiring reasons as to why we run in the first place.”