Homicide charges filed in crash that killed Wendy Thompson

By Richard Crumbacker
Posted 2/1/21

A Virginia man faces felony charges of negligent manslaughter related to his role in a motor vehicle accident last April that led to the death of a well-liked Wicomico …

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Homicide charges filed in crash that killed Wendy Thompson


A Virginia man faces felony charges of negligent manslaughter related to his role in a motor vehicle accident last April that led to the death of a well-liked Wicomico County woman.

It was around mid-day on Sunday, April 19 when Princess Anne EMS and the State Police were called to an accident on Polk’s Road.

Lewis Eric Owens was driving west at a high rate of speed and struck an eastbound vehicle head-on.

Three days later, Wendy Thompson, 79, of Whitehaven, succumbed to her injuries.

After an investigation including blood analysis, on Jan. 6 Somerset County State’s Attorney Wess Garner requested a warrant for the arrest of the 43-year-old Parksley resident and he was served on Jan. 22 with a 12-count indictment. In addition to three felonies including negligent manslaughter and homicide by motor vehicle “while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance,” there are several traffic offenses including driving while impaired

The maximum penalty for negligent manslaughter is 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. Homicide by a motor vehicle has a five-year and/or $5,000 fine as the maximum penalty.

Owens appeared from the Detention Center by closed-circuit video before Circuit Court Judge Daniel W. Powell on Jan. 25 for his bond review. Public Defender Arch McFadden asked that Owens be released on his own recognizance as he was a 4.0 student at Eastern Shore Community College and runs a barbershop, tattoo and piercing business.

Assistant State’s Attorney Erica Witz, however, spoke of Owens’ past charges and convictions for crimes including robbery in Florida, fleeing police in West Virginia, felony grand larceny in Virginia in addition to charges currently pending in Worcester and Somerset counties. They occurred just days prior to the April 19 collision and involve theft through the misuse of credit cards.

Witz said she believes there is a DUI charge pending in California, and that anecdotally she heard from Owens’ probation officer in Virginia that Owens said he was planning to go back there.

Judge Powell ordered Owens to be held without bond because of his past record and pending charges, stating that Owens was a risk to public safety. His trial date was set for June 21. On April 16 he is scheduled in District Court in Snow Hill for theft charges in Worcester County.

Following the death of Wendy Thompson the church bell in Whitehaven rang in her honor. Born in Oxford, England, and trained as a bacteriologist, she moved to Chelsea, London, where she lived during the 1960s and early ’70s, moving to the United States in the mid-1970s.

Arriving first in California, she returned to England with her daughter but came back to the U.S. in 1988 and settled in Salisbury, moving to Whitehaven in the 1990s where she was active with the Whitehaven Heritage Association.

She worked for a time in the public relations office at Salisbury University, for local public radio hosting her own show on WESM-FM, and contributed to Metropolitan Magazine, writing business profiles and the Home of the Month story.

For several years she was one of the three judges during the National Hard Crab Derby Crab Cooking Contest in Crisfield.

In addition to her daughter Rayne, who lives in California, Thompson was loved by friends and neighbors near and far. Last summer they rallied to pay for costly medical expenses related to her 11-year-old spaniel, Samuel, who was cared for and adopted by Thompson’s neighbors rather than be relocated to California.