Former sailor killed while trying to save stranded family from oncoming car

Posted at 9:38 PM, Aug 28, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-04 11:37:10-04

Newport News, Va. - Former Navy sailor Richard Shomette is dead after shielding a family from an oncoming car.

"He gave his life for somebody else," said Judy Dunn, his maternal grandmother.  "We're really proud of him."

Police said Shomette was walking along Bland Blvd. in Newport News around 8 p.m. Wednesday when he stopped to help a family whose car had broken down.  Two women and three children were inside of the vehicle at the time.

As Shomette was trying to help, a woman driving a van hit him and the vehicle, police said.

Shomette and the two women inside of the car were taken to the hospital. Shomette was pronounced dead at the hospital at around 8:44 p.m.

The people inside of the van, a woman, 35-year-old Danielle Cherie Stappert, and her two children, were not injured according to police.

On Tuesday, September 3rd, Stappert was arrested and charged with reckless driving.

She told investigators that she had been distracted by her children's behavior.

Shomette's grandmother told NewsChannel 3 the 22-year-old led a difficult life before dying a hero.

He was adopted when he was five years old, but courts removed him from the family in his early teens after things turned sour.

Shomette bounced around to different foster homes, and wound up homeless at 19 years old.  His grandmother found him on Facebook and brought him to Hampton Roads.

He joined the Navy for a while and got out, but remained dedicated to service.

In the end, his grandmother said he lived how he died - helping others.

"I'm not angry because Richard is with the Lord," Dunn said.