An honor student at Centreville High, Emily Cella excelled in writing and art before graduating in June 2001. But at Mary Washington College — where she was about to begin her junior year — she was concentrating on sociology, with hopes of possibly becoming an urban planner or a psychologist.
She was three weeks shy of her 20th birthday, and a long, bright future lay ahead of her. But it all ended, Aug. 6, on I-95 when a tractor-trailer slammed into the back of her Toyota Echo.
Authorities charged the trucker, Dale Leon Kreider, 33, of 219-J Miller Road in Akron, Pa., with involuntary manslaughter and reckless driving in connection with Cella's death. And he's recently been indicted and will stand trial, this spring.
Cella had been in Centreville, Aug. 6, visiting her parents, Joe and Terri Cella of the Rocky Run community, as well as a close friend, and headed back to college that night. But on Aug. 7 at 2 a.m., traffic on I-95 near Fredericksburg came to a near standstill because of construction.
Three lanes were blocked and going 5-10 mph. Cella's Toyota was the last in a row of slowed cars when the big rig smashed into it and killed her. And although nothing can undo the tragedy and bring her back, the case against the man authorities believe is responsible for it is moving forward in the justice system.
On Nov. 14 in Stafford County General District Court, the judge found probable cause to believe that Kreider is guilty of the crimes with which he's accused and sent both cases to the grand jury. On Dec. 1, the grand jury indicted him, and he's scheduled for a June 9 trial in that county's Circuit Court. If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, he could be sentenced to as much as 10 years in prison.
Meanwhile, Cella's parents have established a scholarship in her name at Mary Washington College. Contributions payable to Mary Washington Foundation may be sent to: Mary Washington College, Attn: Nina Thompson, director of development, P.O. Box 1908, Fredericksburg, VA 22402. Write "Emily Cella, account No. 4-9416," on the message line.