News in 5: Plane crash kills 22-year-old Williamsburg flight instructor, injures two students

Plus: The Friends of WRL received state recognition for its programs, a man was found dead at the condemned Sea View Lofts apartments and Yankee Candle is returning to Williamsburg for the holidays.

Good morning!

We can expect nice weather today, with highs in the 70s and mostly sunny skies, according to Meteorologist Myles Henderson of WTKR News 3.

A cold front will move through our area Thursday, bringing scattered showers and isolated storms. Friday will feel noticeably cooler, but the weekend looks pleasant, with more sunshine and fall-like weather.

If you missed this week’s community calendar of upcoming events, you can find it here. It’s been updated to include a free concert featuring the band Invoke on Sunday, October 16. The event is part of Williamsburg Presbyterian Church’s Open Doors Concerts Series.

A quick local programming note: 2nd congressional district candidates Rep. Elaine Luria (D- VA) and State Sen. Jen Kiggans (R- Virginia Beach) are set to face off in their first debate today. The event will be aired on WTKR from 11 am – 1 pm, according to the Hampton Roads Chamber. It will also be live-streamed on 13NewsNow and WAVY. The 2nd district comprises much of Hampton Roads, including Williamsburg, Poquoson, York County and parts of Hampton.

Now to the news.

Christin

A single-engine Cessna plane crashed at the Williamsburg-Newport News International Airport on Oct. 6, 2022. (Photo provided by Virginia State Police.)

1. A plane crash claimed the life of a flight instructor from Williamsburg and seriously injured two aviation students.

  • An investigation into a plane crash at the Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport revealed that a student pilot was flying a small plane when it crashed and killed a 22-year-old flight instructor from Williamsburg.
  • Virginia State Police said the crash happened during takeoff Thursday afternoon. The single-engine Cessna 172 was piloted by Oluwagbohunmi Ayomide Oyebode, an 18-year-old aviation student. Oyebode attempted to pull the craft up at too steep of an angle, which caused the engine to stall in the air and crash into an embankment, state police said. The flight had reached an altitude of about 100 feet.
  • Oyebode suffered serious injuries. He was taken to Riverside Regional Hospital and then flown to VCU hospital in Richmond. The instructor, identified as Viktoria Theresie Izabelle Ljungman, 22, of Williamsburg, died at the scene. Another 18-year-old male passenger on the flight – whose name has not been released – also suffered serious injuries and was transported to the hospital. No additional information is available about the conditions of Oyebode or the other passenger.
    • Oyebode and the passenger were both students of Hampton University, according to the Daily Press. The university partners with Rick Aviation Flight School for its Bachelor of Science aviation degree program, and Ljungman is listed as an instructor on the flight school’s website.
  • Ljungman, a native of Sweden, graduated from Hampton University. Friends said she was living her lifelong dream of becoming a pilot.

“I remember when I first met her, that’s all she ever wanted to do. She wanted to be a commercial pilot,” Charlie Hudson, a former tennis player at Hampton, told The Daily Press.

  • Ljungman had just earned her pilot license in March of 2021 and then went on to receive her flight instructor’s license this past April. She had nearly 20,000 followers on her Instagram, where she regularly shared updates about her efforts to become a pilot and instructor.

“Our beloved daughter, sister and grandchild Viktoria Ljungman unexpectedly and tragically passed away last Thursday,” Ljungman’s family said in a statement released Monday. “She was not even 22 and a half years old, and we are devastated by this enormous loss. To know Viktoria was to love her, and not just for her family. Everyone who interacted with Viktoria admired her kindness and intelligence, and respected her tremendous dedication and work ethic.”

Viktoria Theresie Izabelle Ljungman (Instagram).

2. The Friends of Williamsburg Regional Library received a state award in recognition of its programs.

  • The Virginia Library Association has awarded its 2022 Friends of the Library Award to The Friends of Williamsburg Regional Library (Friends of WRL). The award is given out annually to a Friends group to recognize distinguished service to a library or library system in Virginia.
    • The Friends of WRL has been supporting the Williamsburg Regional Library since 1964. The group consists of a seventeen-person volunteer board and has made it possible for WRL to offer superb public service by combining successful fundraising within the community and support of the library.
  • Friends of WRL raised over $335,000 last year through individual and business donors as well as ongoing book sales from its popular Book Nooks inside both library buildings. Those funds have been used to support the library’s collections, programs and services. The Book Nooks alone have raised more than $1 million for the library over the past 10 years.

“The Friends of WRL Foundation is honored to receive this award from the VLA,” said Friends of WRL President Sam Sadler. “We strive, through our fundraising and advocacy efforts, to ensure excellence in library programs and services both now and for generations to come.”

  • Friends of WRL supported more than 20 programs in 2021, including a concert series that offers public access to performances by renowned musicians at a very low cost; the Learning to Go collection of hands-on activities; outreach STEAM Saturday programming for children and families in the underserved Grove community; a new Maker Space featuring creative tools and technology; summer youth and adult reading programs and more.
  • Friends of WRL was selected among a very competitive applicant pool, according to Virginia Library Association. The group will be honored at an awards celebration on Wednesday evening, October 19, 2022, at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott.

Families at the Kiwanis Kids Ideas Studio in the James City County Library, funded by the Friends of WRL. (Photo courtesy of Williamsburg Regional Library.)

3. A man was found dead in the condemned Sea View Lofts apartment complex.

  • Newport News Police officers found the body of a man inside the condemned Sea View Lofts apartment building in Newport News. Police and fire crews spent hours at the complex Monday, according to 13NewsNow. After launching an investigation, police said the man died of natural causes.
  • Officers initially went to the scene around 9 am for a welfare check, and that’s when they found the man dead. The building was condemned by the city in July after its elevators and boiler failed to meet code. No one is currently supposed to be living there, but residents are reportedly allowed to go inside during the day to retrieve their personal belongings. A former Sea View Lofts resident said it’s possible the man stayed at the building because he had nowhere else to go.

“I know there’s a lot of people still living in their cars and still have nowhere else to go,” Joe Branch, a longtime resident of the building, told 13NewsNow. “It’s very sad. Look at how long it’s been and nothing has really been accomplished.”

  • A Newport News spokesperson confirmed that the building’s elevator finally passed inspection over the weekend, but the judge overseeing the case has not yet set a date to decide when people can move back in.

4. A new conference series recognizing the 250th anniversary of American independence is coming to Williamsburg.

  • The Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture – in partnership with The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation William & Mary – is hosting a five-year conference series, “For 2026, to mark the 250th anniversary of American independence. The new series combines scholarly discussions with programs for the general public.
  • Revolutionary Legacies,” the first conference in the For 2026 series, will be held Oct. 28-29 and explore diverse perspectives on the revolutionary period and its ongoing implications.

“It is fitting that given the importance of Williamsburg in the founding of our democracy we launch this ambitious five-year conference series here,” said Ann Marie Stock, presidential liaison for strategic cultural partnerships at William & Mary. “As the conference website notes, this national milestone is an unparalleled opportunity for not only this country but citizens across the globe to explore and reflect upon the American past, the foundation of this nation and its legacy into the present.”

  • The series will be one of the first public events in the nation convened with America’s semiquincentennial in mind.
    • Each of the conferences will bring together scholars to discuss emerging research about the revolutionary era and connect a diverse public to current historical research via lectures. The programs will feature panel discussions and walking tours of key sites, and they’ll convene significant conversations about how and why understanding the early American past is especially meaningful today.
  • This fall’s conference, “Revolutionary Legacies,” features two evening plenaries at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg – each followed by a reception – in addition to workshops and lectures at William & Mary’s School of Education.
    • Friday evening’s session will feature a conversation with a variety of notable leaders, including Christy Coleman, Executive Director, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation; Ed Ayers, Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities, University of Richmond; and Tommy Norment, Minority Leader of the Senate of Virginia. Barbara Hamm-Lee, host and executive producer of WHRO’s Another View, will moderate.
    • Saturday’s closing keynote will be delivered by Harvard Law School Professor, eminent historian and Pulitzer-Prize winning author Annette Gordon-Reed.
  • Each of the addresses will be open to the public as well as conference attendees. Tickets can be purchased through Colonial Williamsburg’s website, colonialwilliamsburg.org/oi. Both sessions will also be recorded and simulcast on the Colonial Williamsburg and Omohundro Institute websites. Additional conference programming includes five panel discussions offered Friday and Saturday in the Hennage Auditorium. A free reservation ticket is required to attend those panel discussions. For additional information or to register for the entire workshop or a la carte discussions, click here.

5. Yankee Candle is returning to Williamsburg – but only for the holiday season.

  • Yankee Candle became a popular staple in Williamsburg soon after it opened its doors in 2005. The 42,000-square-foot shop featured a village-style “Christmas Store” that was a hit among locals and tourists alike, but the candle retailer closed down unexpectedly in 2021.
  • While Yankee Candle won’t be reopening in its original Richmond Road site, a popup location is coming to Williamsburg Premium Outlets for the holiday season, the Peninsula Chronicle reports.
    • The popup is scheduled to open by November 1 – and possibly sooner – in space D65A near The North Face and The Children’s Place. Shoppers can expect to find a variety of candle and fragrance products, decor and accessories and gifts.

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6. A James City County bicyclist was killed over the weekend after being struck by a pickup truck.

  • Jule Smith, a 52-year-old man from James City County, was killed Friday night after his bicycle was struck by a pickup truck. Police said the incident happened shortly before 9 pm on Richmond Road, near Anderson’s corner and the intersection with Barhamsville Road.
  • A 40-year-old New Kent County man struck Smith while driving a 2013 Ford 150 pickup west on Richmond Road, according to police. The pickup had a green light at Richmond and Barhamsville roads and collided with Smith after driving through the intersection. Smith died at the scene. He was not wearing a helmet.
  • No charges have been filed, and police say there is no evidence that speed or alcohol was a factor in the collision. The incident remains under investigation.

Lowest Gas Prices Today

Gas prices have jumped by an average of 23 cents in just the last week in Hampton Roads. Here are the lowest prices in our area today.

All prices listed are per GasBuddy. To check the latest prices based on zip code, click here.

Local Covid-19 Update

New cases:VDH reports that an additional 7,174 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week (down from 8,446 cases reported during the previous week). The biggest increase in new cases on the Peninsula was reported in Newport News (141), according to WTVR News 6. All other localities on the Peninsula had less than 100 new cases.

Hospitalizations and deaths: An additional 202 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week (up from 150 the week before), according to VDH data. 97 Covid-19-related deaths also occurred in the state last week (up from 91 reported in the week before).

Vaccination rate: 72.8% of Virginians are fully vaccinated (up from 72.7% last week).

In the National News

  • Kiggans, Luria to Face Off in First Debate: U.S Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) and her challenger, Virginia state Sen. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach), will face off in their first debate Wednesday. The race – which will determine who represents the 2nd Congressional District – has been closely watched nationwide. It’s considered to be among the most competitive races in this year’s midterms, and the results will help decide if Democrats maintain control of the U.S House, the AP reports. Luria and Kiggans, both Navy veterans, are expected to debate a wide range of issues relevant to the region, according to the Hampton Roads Chamber. The debate will be livestreamed on WTKR News 3, 11 am – 1 pm.
  • Russia Escalates Attacks: Russia unleashed a series of strikes against multiple cities in Ukraine Monday. President Vladimir Putin claimed the actions were in retaliation for the explosion of a bridge that connected Russia to occupied Crimea. Ukraine’s state emergency service said at least 19 people died and 105 others were wounded, Axios reports. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant, located in Zaporizhzhia, has lost all external power necessary for vital safety systems, according to the AP. This is the second time the plant, which is surrounded by Russian troops, has lost power in the past five days. The head of the U.N’s nuclear watchdog said Wednesday the situation is a “deeply worrying development.”
  • Gig Worker Labor Proposal Shakeup: A new rule proposed Tuesday by the U.S Department of Labor would make it more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors, Reuters reports. The change could cause huge shakeups for industries that rely on gig workers, like ride-sharing and delivery services. Gig company stocks were derailed by the news, with Uber, Lyft and Doordash all quickly dropping by at least 10%. Under the proposal, workers who are “economically dependent” would be considered employees and would therefore need to receive benefits. Millions of Americans are currently working in gig jobs, and this form of labor has been critical within some transportation, restaurant, construction, health care and other sectors.

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