Heroes on Broad: Richmond Citizens and Employees of Arts Organizations Join Together to Aid Virginia Opera Employee


RICHMOND, VA (February 17, 2016)- If you were anywhere near 7th and Broad yesterday in downtown Richmond around noon you saw emergency vehicles, police cars, streets blocked and the victim of a hit and run lying in the street. 

That uncomfortable feeling of disbelief and curiosity permeated the atmosphere.  A media response to that scene highlighted some unfortunate events that transpired during the accident.  The misfortune of good Samaritans stopping to help and having possessions stolen while their attention was focused on the victim is truly disheartening.  However, if anyone looked closely at what actually happened on the corner of 7th and Broad yesterday they would come away with a much different report.


The real victim of the incident was Kelsey Backe, Office Coordinator for Virginia Opera. The heroes who helped selflessly to save her life and serve justice included Good Samaritan citizens of Richmond and some prominent arts staff members from the Richmond Ballet, Virginia Rep and the Richmond Symphony, who collaborate regularly with Virginia Opera.


A closer look reveals a woman, who after watching the accident in disbelief, stopped to aid Kelsey as she tried to speak; the freshman legislator Del. Nicholas J. Freitas, R-Culpeper who rushed to her side and made sure she remained still; the car full of eye witnesses, all employees of major Richmond Arts organizations, who courageously followed the hit and run driver by car and then on foot, calling the police to assist in the ultimate arrest of the suspect. A coworker held her hand while the emergency medical team assessed her condition.  These were the real heroes of the day along with the police and the emergency medical teams who acted with dispatch and compassion. 


Kelsey will recover.  She faces extensive surgery to repair a shattered knee and weeks of healing and rehabilitation.  However she feels an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the countless heroes who were compelled to stop and offer assistance.  Virginia Opera is very grateful to the Good Samaritans of this city and our valued partners in the performing arts.


Russell P. Allen, President and CEO of Virginia Opera said: “We are very grateful to the Richmond citizens who came to Kelsey’s aid and to our friends and frequent partners at Richmond’s other prominent performing arts organizations for their heroic assistance.”


Virginia Opera Association, Inc., in its 41st season, is known and respected nationwide for the identification and presentation of the finest young artists, for the musical and dramatic integrity of its productions, and for the ingenuity and variety of its education and outreach programs.  Mainstage performances in three markets across the Commonwealth reach nearly 50,000 attendees annually. In March of 1994, by unanimous vote of the Virginia General Assembly, Virginia Opera was named The Official Opera Company of the Commonwealth of Virginia in recognition of the organization’s contribution to the state as well as to the world of opera.  For tickets and information visit vaopera.org or call 866.673.7282.                                          





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