Newsletter
I-495 South just after the American Legion Bridge (via Google Maps)

A Fairfax County police officer’s attempt to stop a reportedly stolen vehicle on I-495 this morning (Wednesday) prompted a high-speed pursuit that extended from McLean to Woodbridge.

The journey began shortly before 5 a.m., when the Fairfax County Police Department notified Virginia State Police that a 2012 Ford Fiesta had been spotted traveling south on I-495 across the American Legion Bridge.

The vehicle had been reported stolen out of New York, according to a VSP news release.

The Virginia State Police says a Fairfax County officer moved to initiate a traffic stop, but the Ford “sped off” at more than 100 miles per hour, leading to a pursuit by state police:

As the stolen vehicle approached Exit 158 on I-95 in Prince William County, the troopers attempted to slow the vehicle and contain it by positioning their vehicles around it. The Ford rammed one of the trooper’s vehicles twice, which caused the police vehicle to spin out and spark a chain reaction crash among a total of three troopers’ vehicles. The Ford kept going.

State police began searching the immediate area for the stolen vehicle and located it a short time later abandoned in a restaurant parking lot in the 2400 block of Prince William Parkway. State police and Prince William County Police K9 teams responded to this location. Shortly after 8 a.m., a 19-year-old female and a 28-year-old male were taken into custody without further incident. Charges are pending.

According to the VSP, five troopers were treated for minor injuries from the crash at the I-95 exit at a nearby hospital, but there were no other vehicles involved or damaged.

No Fairfax County police units were involved in the actual pursuit, an FCPD spokesperson told Tysons Reporter.

State police are still searching for two men who fled the Ford Fiesta, and they’re working with Prince William County police to determine if there’s any connection to the theft of a Honda Civic reported in Woodbridge around 7:25 a.m. today.

“Anyone with information related to this ongoing incident are encouraged to contact the Virginia State Police at 703-803-0026 or #77 on a cell phone, or by email to [email protected],” the VSP said.

Photo via Google Maps

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A Virginia State Police trooper and occupants of a vehicle that had been pulled over for speeding narrowly escaped injury last night (Wednesday) from a collision with a drunk driver, police say.

The incident occurred around 11:45 p.m. on I-495 near the exit to Gallows Road south of Merrifield.

According to the VSP report, a trooper identified as J. Weitzman had stopped a Toyota sedan that was traveling north on the interstate at 90 miles per hour:

While the trooper was standing next to the stopped Toyota, a Nissan Versa traveling north on I-495 ran off the right side of the interstate and slammed into the trooper’s marked patrol car. (The state police vehicle had its emergency lights activated at the time.) The impact of that crash forced the state police car into the Toyota. Trooper Weitzman had to jump out of the way to avoid being struck.

Meanwhile, the Nissan came to rest in the northbound lanes of I-495.

After making certain the Toyota’s driver and passenger were not injured, Trooper Weitzman ran over to the Nissan and called for rescue. The driver was trapped inside the Nissan, as the crash jammed the driver’s door shut. The trooper was able to help the driver of the Nissan out of the vehicle through the passenger side.

No injuries resulted from the crash to Weitzman, the Nissan driver, or the occupants of the Toyota.

The Nissan driver, a 65-year-old D.C. resident, was taken into custody and now faces multiple charges, including driving under the influence. Police say this is the driver’s second DUI offense within the past 10 years.

The driver has also been charged with refusing to take an alcohol breath test, driving without a valid license, and failing to move over.

“The crash remains under investigation,” the Virginia State Police said.

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Morning Notes

Vice President Praises Local Candle Maker — 11-year-old entrepreneur Alejandro got a boost from Vice President Kamala Harris when she visited the stall that his company Smell of Love Candles had at the Downtown Holiday Market in D.C. last weekend. Based in Fairfax County, the company crafts and delivers soy candles, and it now offers the ones bought by Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff as a package. [WUSA9]

COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing Available to Students — Fairfax County Public Schools students and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with a COVID-positive person can now get diagnostic testing at six drive-through sites around the county. Appointments aren’t needed, but a parent or guardian must provide consent and their children’s information through the school system’s online portal. [FCPS]

County Recommends Getting COVID-19 Booster — “The Fairfax County Health Department joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in strengthening their recommendation on booster doses for individuals who are 18 years and older. Everyone aged 18 and older should get a booster shot either six months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after their initial J&J vaccine.” [FCHD]

Four People Killed in Thanksgiving Weekend Traffic Crashes — “Four people died in traffic crashes in Virginia over the Thanksgiving weekend, the smallest number of traffic fatalities during the holiday weekend in the past 10 years, according to preliminary data released by the Virginia State Police. The fatal crashes occurred in the counties of Albemarle, Chesterfield, Fairfax and Spotsylvania.” [Patch]

Fairfax County Collects Record Taxes — “Fairfax County collected more than $4 billion in total taxes in fiscal 2021 for the first time ever, a staggering figure made possible not by rising tax rates, but soaring property assessments. Of the $4.05 billion collected in the fiscal year that ended June 30, $3.02 billion, or roughly 75%, came from real property tax levies, according to the county’s recently released Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Leaders Consider Staff Pay Increases — “Fairfax County supervisors and School Board members next year hope to give county and school employees large pay raises to make up for ones lost last year to the pandemic. But supervisors added quickly they did not want homeowners to feel the full brunt of skyrocketing property assessments.” [Sun Gazette]

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Debris from a two-vehicle crash on the I-495 ramp to the George Washington Memorial Parkway in McLean (courtesy Virginia State Police)

Three people, including one child, ended up in the hospital this morning (Wednesday) after two vehicles crashed on the northbound I-495 exit ramp for the George Washington Memorial Parkway in McLean.

According to Virginia State Police, which responded to the crash at 10:37 a.m., the crash involved a box truck and a Toyota sedan that had stopped on the interstate between the right, northbound travel lane and the shoulder:

At this stage of the crash investigation, it appears a Toyota sedan was stopped partially in the right, northbound travel lane and partially on the right shoulder. A box truck came upon the stopped vehicle and tried to change lanes to avoid the Toyota, but the Toyota suddenly pulled into the truck’s travel lane. The two vehicles collided.

The Toyota was occupied by two adult women and a 6-year-old boy, all of whom were hospitalized. A female passenger is undergoing treatment for injuries considered life-threatening, while the female driver and the boy sustained serious but not life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the box truck, an adult man, was not injured.

“The crash remains under investigation at this time,” state police said in a news release. “The Virginia State Police Crash Reconstruction Team is assisting with the ongoing investigation.”

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One person has died after two vehicles crashed in the I-495 North access lanes to Route 50 in West Falls Church this morning (Thursday), Virginia State Police reported.

VSP responded to a crash on the Capital Beltway at 2:59 a.m. According to police, a Volkswagen and dump truck collided in the access lanes, resulting in one confirmed fatality and sending another person to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The crash completely blocked the I-495 Inner Loop service road and on ramp, and access to the Inner Loop from both Gallows Road and Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) was cut off.

The incident was cleared and all travel lanes reopened around 9:12 a.m., but delays lingered with traffic backed up to the I-495 and I-395 interchange in Springfield.

The crash remains under investigation, VSP says.

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I-66 near the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station (staff photo by David Taube)

Virginia State Police are still investigating the three-vehicle crash that closed I-66 East in the Merrifield area for hours on Thursday (Sept. 9).

The crash killed three people who have now been identified as 28-year-old Lacquora Smith from Alfred, Maine, and her 4-year-old and 6-year-old daughters, state police reported in an update this morning (Monday).

According to police, Smith was driving a 2012 Honda Crosstour east on I-66 when the vehicle lost control near the 64-mile marker at I-495, striking a 2015 Toyota RAV SUV and veering off into a guardrail along the right side of the interstate.

After hitting the guardrail, the Honda swerved back into the eastbound lanes of I-66, struck the Toyota a second time, and continued toward the left side of the interstate.

“The Honda continued off the left side of the interstate and struck the guardrail, after which it spun back into the eastbound lanes of I-66,” the VSP said. “An eastbound tractor-trailer swerved to the right to avoid the spinning Honda, but the two vehicles collided.”

Police responded to the scene around 3:06 a.m.

There were five people in Smith’s Honda at the time of the crash. The two surviving passengers — a 7-year-old girl and a 2-year-old juvenile — were transported to Fairfax Inova Hospital to receive treatment for non-life-threatening injuries.

VSP spokesperson Corinne Geller confirmed that three of the juveniles in the car were Smith’s children, while the fourth was a family member. It was not immediately clear whether the two surviving children have been released from Inova Hospital as of this afternoon.

As previously reported, the adult male driver of the tractor-trailer involved in the crash was not injured, and the Toyota driver, also an adult man, was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

A GoFundMe organized by Catherine Donnell, who identifies herself as Smith’s aunt, has been set up to help the family cover funeral costs and other expenses. The woman says Smith was driving home to New Hampshire after visiting her in Tennessee when the crash occurred.

The fundraiser has drawn more than $16,700 as of 3:15 p.m.

Eastbound I-66 is being detoured onto Nutley Street after a multi-vehicle crash near I-495 in Merrifield (via VDOT 511)

(Updated at 1:05 p.m.) Three people died in a multi-vehicle crash that closed off eastbound I-66 in Merrifield throughout this morning (Thursday).

All lanes on I-66 have now reopened, the Virginia Department of Transportation reported at 12:16 p.m.

According to the Virginia State Police, a tractor-trailer and two passenger vehicles collided on I-66 just before the I-495 interchange around 3:06 a.m. Police have confirmed three fatalities: an adult female driver and two children.

Police have determined that a Honda SUV traveling east on I-66 lost control near the 64-mile marker at the Capital Beltway, the VSP said in a report:

The Honda struck a Toyota SUV and then continued off the right side of the interstate. When the Honda struck the guardrail, it then re-entered the eastbound lanes of I-66 and struck the Toyota SUV a second time. The Honda continued off the left side of the interstate and struck the guardrail, after which it spun back into the eastbound lanes of I-66. An eastbound tractor-trailer swerved to the right to avoid the spinning Honda, but the two vehicles collided.

The three people who died at the scene were all in the Honda SUV.

“State police is still in the process of confirming their identities and notifying next of kin,” the VSP said.

Two other juveniles are getting treatment at Fairfax Inova Hospital for non-life threatening injuries. The adult male driver of the Toyota SUV was also transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of injuries that police say were not life-threatening.

The tractor-trailer driver, identified as an adult man, was not injured in the crash.

The crash investigation closed all eastbound I-66 lanes at 64.7 mile marker near the Capital Beltway, resulting in traffic backups that, at one point, stretched back to Fairfax County Parkway at Fair Lakes.

Drivers were detoured onto Nutley Street in Vienna, as VDOT warned motorists to expect delays. The investigation into the crash is still ongoing.

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Adrian Lund, the former president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (via the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security)

The former leader of an insurance industry-funded nonprofit aimed at reducing highway deaths was seriously injured in a crash that took the life of a 29-year-old woman on I-95 earlier this month.

Adrian K. Lund, 72, retired from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2017 but has been listed as a trustee of a U.K. charity called Towards Zero Foundation, which works internationally to try to end all road fatalities and advance other safety efforts.

On Aug. 7, Lund, a McLean resident, was driving a 2020 BMW 540i southbound on I-95 in Springfield near the Old Keene Mill Road exit, south of the Beltway, around the time that 29-year-old Reston resident Stephanie D. Garcia made an illegal U-turn on the highway, according to Virginia State Police.

Police provided the following details:

Garcia was also driving a BMW, a 2016 228i, and was in the I-95 Express Lanes when the vehicle ran off the left side of the interstate and made the U-turn in the shoulder.

Based on witness accounts, the BMW then stopped on the southbound shoulder facing north. It then pulled back into the Express Lanes and struck Lund’s vehicle head-on.

The impact of the crash, which occurred at 6:59 a.m., caused Garcia’s BMW to spin around and strike the Jersey wall, and Lund’s vehicle overturned and came to rest on the right shoulder.

While Lund was wearing a seatbelt, Garcia wasn’t and was thrown from the car. She was taken to Fairfax Inova Hospital, where she died from her injuries the following day on Aug. 8.

Police said yesterday (Thursday) that they are still investigating the crash and awaiting a final report from a medical examiner.

Lund spent over three decades of his career at the Arlington-headquartered Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. He took on the role of president in 2006 and testified before a Congressional commerce subcommittee in 2017 on truck-related deaths.

IIHS spokesperson Joe Young said staff were aware of the crash, and he believed Lund left the hospital, where police said he was treated for serious injuries, shortly after the crash.

Young said last week that he learned from staff that Lund was recovering at home.

Lund has continued to advocate for safety efforts and regularly shares news about related issues on Twitter.

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I-66 West approaching Nutley Street exit (via Google Maps)

A motorcyclist died on Sunday (July 4) after crashing off of Interstate 66 near the Nutley Street exit, Virginia State Police reported yesterday (Wednesday).

According to police, Eddie B. Short, 55, of Manassas was traveling west on I-66 on a 1999 Harley-Davidson Sportster when the motorcycle went off the interstate and hit a crash attenuator. The crash occurred at 12:33 p.m. on the Fourth of July.

Short, who was wearing a helmet, was transported to Fairfax Inova Hospital, where he died from the resulting injuries that same day.

VSP Public Relations Director Corinne Geller confirmed to Tysons Reporter that the crash occurred near Exit 62 for Nutley Street. The cause of the crash has not been determined as the incident remains under investigation.

State police say Short was one of 10 people who died in traffic crashes on Virginia highways over this past Independence Day weekend, which was counted from 12:01 a.m. on July 2 to midnight on July 5.

Four of the reported fatal crashes involved motorcycles, and one involved an all-terrain vehicle.

Preliminary data shows that 399 people have been killed in traffic crashes in 2021 as of July 7, four more deaths than had been recorded at this point last year, according to a VSP news release.

Overall, state troopers responded to 669 traffic crashes and 1,550 incidents involving stranded or disabled motorists during the holiday weekend. They also arrested 61 drunk drivers and issued 4,025 citations for speeding, 1,434 for reckless driving, and 510 for not wearing a seatbelt.

“We are at the height of the summer travel season, which is why we need every Virginian committed to being a safe, responsible driver,” VSP Superintendent Col. Gary T. Settle said. “Please put as much attention into driving, buckling up and complying with speed limits as you do with planning your summer getaway. You and Virginia’s safety depend on it.”

Photo via Google Maps

Morning Notes

Teen Arrested after Police Chase on I-495 — Virginia State Police arrested an 18-year-old from Portsmouth on multiple charges, including abduction and possession of a concealed weapon without a permit, after he reportedly led a state trooper on a chase in a stolen car on Friday (June 18). The trooper attempted to pull over a Honda Civic going 80 mph in a 55 mile-per-hour zone on Interstate 495, leading to a chase that ended when the Honda rear-ended a trailer on Lee Chapel Road. [WTOP]

Work Begins Today on McLean Field Conversion — “Work is scheduled to begin Monday to convert the existing soccer field at Holladay Field Park in McLean to synthetic turf. Crews will also install stormwater and drainage features and other site improvements. It’s expected to be completed in October.” [Fairfax County Park Authority/Twitter]

The Langley School Breaks Ground on New Facility — “On June 18, The Langley School officially broke ground for a state-of-the-art new building on its 9.2-acre campus…Called the Crossroads Building, the facility is scheduled to open in fall 2022 and will house the preschool, junior kindergarten, kindergarten, fifth grade, and after-school programs, along with a library/media center and a multipurpose space.” [The Langley School/Patch]

Vienna Completes New Public Art Project — “Come on out to the latest project by the Vienna Public Arts Commission and get your picture taken with butterfly wings! The display, painted by Madison graduate Myles Temple, is by the batting cages at Caffi Field.” [Town of Vienna/Facebook]

Comedian Puts on Father’s Day Show for Jammin’ Java — “Vienna native Allan Sidley likes to make a room laugh. Despite his stage fright, Sidley got into stand-up comedy seven years ago, and has been bringing laughter to people’s lives ever since. Sidley likes to look at life with the perspective of laughing makes things better.” [Fairfax County Times]

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