Small-town police chief finds little girls alive after mother was killed in crash

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV)— Last week was a difficult one for a Shenandoah Valley family following the death of Desirae Sherwood. Sherwood’s mother Brenda said it could have been a lot worse if it wasn’t for a local police officer.

On June 8, Brenda was up early waiting for Desirae to drop off her daughters, Grace and Violet. But that morning, Desirae never came. Brenda realized her daughter wasn’t at work either and no one had heard from her since Sunday night, when she was driving back from Harrisonburg.

“I just started and searched all of Route 11 from Staunton to Harrisonburg to try to see if I saw anything,” Brenda Sherwood said.

Corey Wood is Craigsville’s police chief. He was off-duty that day, but when he heard a family from the area was missing, he started looking as well. He received information from the sheriff’s office and started walking Little Calf Pasture Highway, between Buffalo Gap and Augusta Springs. Around 7:30 Monday evening, Wood saw something.

“I saw a twinkle in the wood line and it was actually the broken windshield of the vehicle so I walked a little faster at that point,” Wood said.

Wood said the car was down buried in heavy undergrowth in a ditch he did not even realize existed and he’s driven the road for 15 years. He said it was difficult to get down the embankment and he was worried.

He first saw Desirae’s five-year-old daughter.

“I shook her shoulder,” Wood said. “I said honey, hey honey, wake up, and she woke up and looked right at me. And that right there hit me pretty good, you know, that was a happy moment.”

Wood carried Grace up to the road and climbed back down to get Violet, who is a year and a half. The girls only had minor injuries, but Wood said they were likely in the car for close to 20 hours after the crash.

Brenda Sherwood said she was happy to find out her granddaughters were safe.

“I was even more happy when I actually got to see the girls and say ‘Hi, I love you,'” Sherwood said.

She said while her daughter’s passing has been difficult, there has been a lot of good to come out of the tragedy. Sherwood said the community has truly come together to support her family and the girls. The family and Wood are spending time together, as well.

Credit: WHSV