Arrest Made In Hit And Run Of Historic Cannon

Salem, VA - Salem police say a Roanoke man went off road and ran into a popular World War One artillery piece. It's been on display there for decades.

Richard Godley, 45, now faces two misdemeanor charges, including leaving the scene of an accident.

Sometime during the overnight hours leading into Monday, Salem Police say a Roanoke man waited a little too long to make a left hand turn and ended up slamming into a captured German artillery piece that had sat at the intersection for more than 30 years.

"It's truly a shame this had to happen. The gun survived a World War but couldn't survive a traffic accident," said Salem Museum Director John Long.

The news pains a historian like Long. He remembers the artillery piece during the days it sat on the front lawn of the old Roanoke County Courthouse.

Originally put up by the American Legion in 1926, the piece was moved a few blocks into town after Roanoke College took over the building in the late 1980's.

The piece sat as part of a memorial to nearly 40 men from Salem and Roanoke County, who died during the war.

"We don't often think of World War I as much as we do World War II or Korea or Vietnam. But those men went and put their lives on the line for their country and this is our way of memorializing them," Long said.

For the most part, the gun itself made it through the accident unscathed.

It's the antique wheels made of wood that will be most difficult to replace.

As the centennial of the "Great War" gets underway this year, though, Long hopes the repairs will be made soon.

"This might be a good opportunity to remind ourselves what that generation did for the United States," Long said.

There is no firm estimate on the cost to repair the relic.

An initial guess by the city has the cost at "several thousands of dollars."