December 19, 2023
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Margo and Chief Angelo DiMartino

By: Margaret Kavanagh

Posted at 6:01 AM, Dec 18, 2023 and last updated 9:40 AM, Dec 18, 2023

EXMORE, Va. — Speeding continues to be a major problem on the Eastern Shore, as many people get citations.

The News 3 Investigative Team continues to follow this issue and the Exmore Police Department was able to take us out to give us a firsthand look at some of the problems they experience on a daily basis with drivers going too fast, especially on State Route 13.

Back in October, Investigative Reporter Margaret Kavanagh got pulled over back in Exmore on State Route 13.

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Going 64 in a 45, she said she didn’t realize the speed limit dropped from 55 to 45 miles per hour.

The News 3 Investigative Team started asking questions about the number of speeding tickets and the money generated from those tickets.

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“It is never about revenue,” Exmore Police Department Chief Angelo DiMartino said. “It’s just about safety.”

He said the town of Exmore generates a lot of tax revenue through businesses.

To show the News 3 Investigative Team some of the speeding issues, Chief DiMartino took us out for a ride-along.

He said officers in his department have to make sure the large 45-mile-per-hour signs are up. They previously had an experience where someone took one of them down.

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“VDOT has done the study, so they’re the ones who decide what the speed limit should be,” DiMartino said.

Through our investigation, data from state officials show there’s a high amount of out-of-state drivers getting tickets on the Eastern Shore, and some people have been critical about pulling over so many out-of-towners.

Chief DiMartino showed the News 3 Investigative Team the radar guns they use. He said many times, officers are at least 1,000 feet away when clocking drivers.

He showed us how you can’t see from that distance if they are out-of-town plates, or what the driver looks like. You can’t see more of their identifying features until the car gets much closer.

While we were positioned on State Route 13, we clocked several drivers going well over the posted speed limit. At one point, Fred Walker was trying to cross the road on his bike and a car was clocked going 80 miles an hour down the road.

Chief DiMartino said drivers going that fast is common. He also explained that when they point the laser at the car and see the driver is slowing down, in many cases, they will write the ticket for the amount under reckless driving to prevent drivers from having to go to court, especially if they are from out of state.

Walker said his brother just got hit by a car the other day, but thankfully survived. He said cars are going too fast along State Route 13.

“When you have to give notification of a death to a family member, that’s difficult, especially when you know them, you grew up here,” Chief DiMartino said. “Most of these officers grew up here. They are lifelong friends and family and when you have to go to a house and give a death notification, that’s tough.”

The Ortiz family was shattered after two sisters were killed in a horrific crash on the Eastern Shore in the town of Weirwood in Northampton County back in February 2022.

“Our family feels a profound emptiness and an inexplicable pain that only those who have lost a child know,” Nayda Vazquez, the girls’ mother, said. “There is nothing in the world that can return us to normalcy; all that remains is to ask God for the strength necessary to endure each day for the rest of our lives.”

The mother also shared the following remarks:

“Reflecting on my beautiful daughters, Dajerilyz (Daje) and Nadyanaliz (Nany), brings a mix of pride and heartache. Daje’s vibrant energy in the marching band showcased her passion, while Nany’s loveliness left a lasting positive impact. Their unique qualities made them special and cherished.

The terrible experience we’ve endured has left an indescribable pain, a profound sorrow touching every aspect of our lives. Losing two daughters has created an emotional void filled with sadness, emptiness, and disbelief.

To the public and drivers on State Route 13, I urge you to prioritize safety on the road. Adhere to speed limits, be mindful of others, and help prevent the heartbreak caused by reckless driving.”

-Nayda Vazquez

Since 2020 on State Route 13 alone, in Northampton County, there were 531 crashes and nine people killed. In Accomack County, there were 19 deaths and 855 accidents, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

Chief DiMartino knows the pain of losing a loved one after his 64-year-old father, who had also been a police officer, died in a car accident.

“My father was not wearing his seat belt and he was involved in a vehicle rollover. He was ejected,” Chief DiMartino said. “It was difficult. He was my best friend. We did everything together.”

The Chief takes traffic enforcement seriously and wants drivers to slow down and stay alive.

“Our goal every time we come here is to make sure people get home safely,” Chief DiMartino said.

Brianna Lanham contributed to this story.

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