CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WSVN) — Hillary Bushing almost missed the crash in Charlottesville, Virginia that killed one woman and injured 19 others, Saturday, but she was unable to escape the turmoil.
“I absolutely could be dead right now,” said Bushing, who added she and her boyfriend were on their way out of town when they were confronted with the riots that sparked after a white nationalist rally.
Sunday afternoon brought peace and sunshine to the streets of Charlottesville, but the sadness lingered.
7News cameras captured a woman singing for peace while holding a maraca as she walked down a street, Sunday.
Closer to the scene of the crash, four women carrying flowers, their arms locked, approached a growing memorial for the victims.
They said they didn’t know any of the injured, but they are mourning anyway. “We are here as an act of compassion,” said one of the women.
The tranquility was a stark contrast with the chaos that Bushing witnessed Saturday. She said she and her boyfriend were leaving because she couldn’t stand the racially charged time bomb Charlottesville had become.
But they never got to leave. Instead, the couple ran into crowds of protesters on Main Street.
Then Bushing saw a gray Dodge Challenger speeding toward counter-protesters. “I just will never forget the moment when I saw the car literally airborne after it went over the speed bump,” she said.
Bushing and her boyfriend were on the sidewalk and watched as a photographer took pictures of the protesters. All of a sudden, she said, the Challenger came barreling down and slammed into the photographer.
The witness said the photographer’s camera went airborne. “My boyfriend caught the camera, which I’m holding now,” she said.
Bushing was unable to return the camera to the injured photographer in all the commotion. She showed 7News the last photo taken with the camera, showing counter-protesters marching while they held a large yellow sign that reads, “The Confederacy lost and so will you.”
Moments before the ordeal, Bushing said, she had taken cellphone video of an accordionist singing “This Land Is Your Land” as police in riot gear walked by him.
Residents said Charlottesville is hurting, but staying strong. “This is our community, and we will not allow other people to come in and take it from us,” said one woman.
Sunday evening, some streets were still shut down and a heavy police presence remained throughout the city.
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