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Tragedy strikes the ’Neck

Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 9:16 am

Amid those offering prayers and well wishes to the families mourning a terrible loss, people who attended last week’s vigil will remember one thing – the sound of dozens of young children crying.

Last Tuesday, Warsaw residents Bethany Dempsey, 37, boyfriend Mike Cullen, 37, and his two children, Abby, 7, and “Bubba,” 15, along with Bethany’s daughter Lauren, 14, were involved in an eight-vehicle crash in Anne Arundel County, Md.

Bethany, Abby and Lauren were killed during the collision. Bubba was seriously injured and Mike Cullen remained in critical condition as of presstime.

Jason Nathaniel Pagayoya, 36, of Waldorf, Md. was driving a 2000 International flatbed truck, at about 50 mph, when he rear-ended the Cullen’s Camry, according to police reports.

No alcohol or drugs are suspected, however accident reports are now citing “driver error” on the part of Pagayoya.

Bethany, Abby and Lauren were all in the back seat as they traveled back to their home in Warsaw. Two of the children were being picked up from the airport after family visits.

Maryland officials said it was one of the worst they have ever seen. It created a chain reaction that involved eight vehicles, 14 people and numerous injuries.

Immediately after the accident, the local community in Richmond County and King George, where Bethany’s father serves as sheriff, flocked to social media sites in grief and disbelief.

Thousands of messages flooded the internet with all in disbelief over the loss of such loving souls

Both Bethany and Mike were very involved in the community through church, civic organizations as well as serving as little league coaches.


Bethany was well known for her smile and commitment to her family, staying home this summer to stay with them and enjoy “family time.”

In his last social media post, Mike said that while he loved spending time with Bethany, he missed the kids and was looking forward to them coming back home.

Both Bethany and Mike co-coached a girl’s coaches pitch team this year and also went on to coach in All-Stars, which Abby was a member of.

Active members of the Rappahannoch Church of Christ (RCOC),  the family also were deeply involved in community events and often offered their time and assistance to anyone in need.

During last week’s prayer vigil at RCOC, which was standing-room only with overflow into adjacent halls, the three lost were remembered as angels.

During this time of grief, local schools have made greif counseling available for any child who is having a hard time understanding their loss.

The Sheriff’s Department and local church and civic organizations have opened their doors for anyone who need help in dealing with the traumatic situation.

Arrangements for Bethany and Lauren were held Friday, Aug. 30, at Spotswood Baptist Church.

Memorials may be made to King George County High School, Lauren Allie White Scholarship Fund, 10100 Foxes Way, King George, VA 22485.

Arrangements for Abby will be held  Wednesday, Sept. 4, 5 – 7  p.m. at Rappahannock Church of Christ. A funeral service will be held for her on  Thursday, Sept. 5,  2 p.m. at Rappahannock Church of Christ. Interment Cobham Park.

Editors Note: The Northern Neck News wishes to extend its deepest sympathy to all of those affected by this terrible loss. We are not just a community, we are a family and we all feel this loss deeply.