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Police are investigating assaults against minors that occurred in September around trails in the Burke area (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) Fairfax County police believe a single man may be responsible for a series of assaults on minors in the Burke area.

A 65-year-old Burke man has been arrested and charged with sexual battery of a minor in connection to an incident that occurred on Sept. 7, the Fairfax County Police Department announced today (Monday).

According to police, a juvenile girl reported that “an unknown man approached her, grabbed her wrist, and groped” her chest while she was walking on the Wards Grove path near the 5800 block of Poppy Court around 6:30 p.m.

“The victim was able to run away and call the police,” the FCPD said in a news release.

Major Crimes Bureau detectives assigned to the case developed a composite sketch of the possible suspect on Sept. 14 and canvassed the area “looking for additional leads,” police said.

“During the canvass, additional incidents involving the suspect were reported to police, including an assault against a minor and an additional instance of sexual battery against a minor,” the FCPD said.

While canvassing, police say officers saw a man who matched the suspect’s description. Detectives interviewed him and learned that he often uses the trails around Burke Commons Road and Roberts Parkway, prompting them to make an arrest.

So far, the man has only been charged with the Sept. 7 case, but detectives are still investigating his possible connection to other reported cases in the area, according to the FCPD.

“Our dedicated detectives are working closely with the community to identify any additional incidents that may have occurred,” an FCPD spokesperson said. “We understand the importance of gathering all necessary evidence and conducting thorough interviews with all victims involved.”

The police department is asking anyone who may have been a victim or have additional information to contact its detectives at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be sent anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.

Some community members say a median on Burke Centre Parkway should be extended at a roadway out of the Burke Centre Shopping Center (via Google Maps)

In October, the Virginia Department of Transportation will put together recommended improvements for the portion of Burke Centre Parkway where a fatal crash occurred last month.

The recommendations will come after VDOT staff can review the official police investigative report on the crash in September. The department is also planning to conduct studies on potential speed limit changes and the feasibility of a traffic signal in September and October.

The exact dates when the recommended improvements will be presented and implemented are to be determined, VDOT Assistant District Administrator Steven Welch said at a virtual community meeting about the parkway Tuesday night (August 15).

The timeline for implementation can depend on the nature of the changes. A median closure would take less time put in place than a new traffic signal, for example, Welch said.

“The range is really wide,” he said.

Welch also recapped safety improvements made on Burke Centre Parkway in the last three years, which include removing the flashing yellow arrow from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the intersection of Burke Centre Parkway and Roberts Parkway and adding pedestrian warning signs at four crosswalks.

More than 70 people attended the virtual community meeting, which Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw hosted in the wake of the July 18 crash that killed 17-year-old Rebekah Zarco and hospitalized three other teens.

The bulk of the roughly hour-long meeting featured questions and comments from community members, including on the possibility that the July crash involved cars racing.

“In the days after the crash, we did hear there may have been vehicles racing,” said Second Lt. Ian Yost, a crash reconstruction unit supervisor in the Fairfax County Police Department’s traffic division.

Police say 42-year-old Burke resident Jose Angel Zelaya, who was arrested on Aug. 1 and has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, was driving at almost double the 40-mph speed limit when he crashed into the car of teens.

District 37 State Sen. David Marsden said he was intrigued by the potential connection to racing. He said he has submitted a bill to the General Assembly to deal with loud vehicle muffler noise.

“Certainly loud mufflers don’t cause people to race, but it certainly is indicative of some desire to be aggressive with your car, at least its noise and perhaps its speed,” Marsden said.

Some community members asked about the possibility of adding speed cameras. Under a 2020 state law, Fairfax County can place speed cameras in school and construction zones. A pilot program with cameras outside eight schools has been underway since February.

“Where we are right now is we recently started the school zone pilot program,” Walkinshaw said. “I anticipate we’ll want to expand that to other schools around the county and use that to learn and maybe advocate for additional authorities from the General Assembly in Richmond to do more.”

Multiple community members also brought up the possibility of adding a median barrier at the intersection outside the Burke Centre Shopping Center where the crash occurred.

At the meeting, FCPD officers also provided a brief overview of the department’s recent traffic safety efforts, including the summer “Road Shark” campaign and recent traffic enforcement on Burke Centre Parkway.

FCPD’s motor unit issued 440 citations while conducting “high visibility enforcement” on the roadway between July 24 and July 29, according to a presentation at the meeting.

Community members who have questions or comments about Burke Centre Parkway can contact Walkinshaw’s office at or 703-425-9300. The FCPD says anyone who may have witnessed something related to the July 18 crash can contact its crash tip line at 703-280-0543.

Image via Google Maps

Fairfax County police on Burke Centre Parkway (via FCPD/Twitter)

The driver who crashed into a car of teenagers on Burke Centre Parkway last month has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, police announced today (Tuesday).

Jose Angel Zelaya, a 42-year-old Burke resident, was arrested yesterday after detectives found that he was driving almost double the speed limit around the time his 2014 Cadillac XTS4 collided with a 2023 Kia Forte exiting the Burke Centre Shopping Center parking lot on July 18, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

The crash killed 17-year-old Rebekah Zarco and sent three other teens who were in the Kia to the hospital, where all of them are still being treated, according to police.

Zelaya is being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.

As community members started a petition calling for a traffic light or other safety improvements in the area, the FCPD increased the presence of its officers on Burke Centre Parkway last week for a crackdown on dangerous driving.

The High Visibility Enforcement campaign resulted in 419 traffic summons and warnings, including 222 speeding infractions, the department said on Monday.

The road’s speed limit is 40 mph in the 5700 block where the fatal crash occurred.

A recent graduate of Robinson Secondary School, Zarco had been preparing to pursue a degree in technology at George Mason University’s School of Engineering this fall, according to an obituary published by her family.

She also played the piano and enjoyed traveling. The obituary says she was “an exemplary friend” who was “always ready to lend a caring ear or offer a helping hand to those in need.”

“In the midst of our grief, we find solace in knowing that Bekah’s beautiful soul has left an indelible mark on the world,” Zarco’s family wrote. “Her kindness, grace, and love will forever be remembered and cherished by all who were touched by her presence.”

A memorial service for the teen was held this past Saturday (July 29).

Photo via FCPD/Twitter

Fairfax County police are stepping up their presence on Burke Centre Parkway this week (via FCPD/Twitter)

Drivers on Burke Centre Parkway can expect to see more police than usual this week, as the community still reels from a crash that killed one teen and put three others in the hospital.

The Fairfax County Police Department launched a High Visibility Enforcement (HIVE) initiative today (Monday) that will increase the presence of motor and patrol officers along the roadway between Fairfax County Parkway and Burke Lake Road.

The initiative is intended to “deter and change dangerous traffic behaviors on Fairfax County roads” after a driver who was allegedly speeding crashed into a Kia exiting the Burke Centre Shopping Center on July 18, killing a 17-year-old identified by news reports as Rebekah Zarco.

“This coordinated and targeted enforcement effort aims at identifying aggressive drivers and addressing hazardous driving behaviors,” the FCPD said. “It is part of the department’s ongoing commitment to reducing crashes and enhancing safety on our roadways.”

The HIVE initiative builds on an ongoing campaign by local police to crack down on dangerous driving in response to a surge in pedestrian fatalities last year.

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles data shows 17 traffic deaths in Fairfax County so far this year, though the database doesn’t yet list any fatalities from June or July.

Zarco was the eighth non-pedestrian killed on a county road in 2023, according to the Fairfax County Police Department, whose count doesn’t include crashes on highways or the Dulles Toll Road.

Last week’s crash brought renewed attention to safety concerns specifically on Burke Centre Parkway. As of April 30, there had been 12 crashes on the roadway this year, a rate slightly behind the 39 crashes recorded last year and 41 in 2021, according to the FCPD.

Since July 2020, the department has issued over 2,100 citations on Burke Center Parkway.

A petition calling for a traffic light at the intersection where the incident occurred has drawn over 1,500 supporters, as of press time. Some commenters suggested the road’s concrete median should be closed instead to prevent left turns out of the shopping center.

The FCPD hasn’t shared how fast the driver in last week’s crash was traveling, but detectives believe “speed was a contributing factor.” Burke Centre Parkway’s speed limit is 40 mph.

As it focuses traffic enforcement efforts on sites known to have high crash rates, the police department shared some tips for safe driving:

Traffic safety is everyone’s responsibility. FCPD reminds drivers to:

  • Put the phone down and go hands-free.
  • Avoid distractions.
  • Be mindful of crosswalks and pedestrians.
  • Share the road with bicyclists.
  • Yellow means “slow down” and red means “stop.”
  • Don’t speed.
  • Allow ample time to get to your destination.
  • Keep your eyes and mind on the road.

By following these safety tips, you are playing a crucial role in making our highways safer by preventing unnecessary crashes. With your assistance, the FCPD can mitigate injuries and prevent fatalities resulting from traffic crashes.

Photo via FCPD/Twitter

Fairfax County Police Lt. James Curry at scene of fatal crash on Burke Centre Parkway (via FCPD/Facebook)

A driver who crashed into a car with four teenagers, killing one of them, in Burke last night (Tuesday) might have been speeding, Fairfax County police say.

A preliminary investigation suggests the adult, male driver was driving a 2014 Cadillac XTS4 west on Burke Centre Parkway when he crashed into a 2023 Kia Forte attempting to exit the Burke Centre Shopping Center parking lot, the Fairfax County Police Department said in a news release today.

Police responded to the scene in the 5700 block of Burke Centre Parkway at 9 p.m. yesterday.

The Kia driver died at the scene, and three passengers — all juveniles — were transported to a hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries. All of them remain hospitalized, according to police.

State law prohibits police departments from publicly sharing information about juvenile victims without parental consent.

The Cadillac driver, who also hasn’t been publicly identified, was taken to a hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening.

“Preliminarily, detectives believe speed was a contributing factor in the crash,” the FCPD said. “Detectives continue to investigate the circumstances that led to the crash and determine appropriate charges.”

This was the eighth fatal crash on Fairfax County roads in 2023 that didn’t involve a pedestrian — and the second such crash in as many days after 27-year-old Mahdere Fassil died in a crash in Fort Belvoir on Monday (July 17).

After seeing a sharp increase in pedestrian fatalities last year, the county has recently undertaken a variety of measures aimed at improving traffic safety, from speed cameras in school zones to a study of turn-calming measures designed to slow down vehicles.

The Fairfax County Police Department launched a “Road Shark” campaign this spring to crack down on aggressive driving behaviors, including speeding. A third “wave” of the enforcement effort took place during the week of July 10 after previous iterations collectively resulted in more than 8,000 citations.

Photo via FCPD/Facebook

A Fairfax County police SUV with lights on (file photo)

(Updated at 12:20 a.m. on 7/19/2023) One teen has died and three others have been hospitalized after a two-vehicle crash in Burke.

Officers were called to the scene outside the Burke Centre Shopping Center in the 5700 block of Burke Center Parkway, the Fairfax County Police Department tweeted at 9:42 p.m.

“Detectives do believe that speed was likely a factor in this crash,” FCPD Lt. James Curry said in an update at midnight, asking anyone who may have been in the area around 9 p.m. to call the department’s non-emergency number at 703-691-2131.

Burke Centre Parkway was closed for the police investigation. The FCPD advised everyone to avoid the area.

This is Fairfax County’s second fatal crash in as many days. A driver was killed last night (Monday) after a two-vehicle crash on Jeff Todd Way in Fort Belvoir.

Optical speed bars intended to slow down drivers have been installed on Lee Chapel Road in Fairfax Station (via Pat Herrity/Twitter)

Calls for safety improvements on Lee Chapel Road in Fairfax Station have resurfaced in the wake of last week’s car crash that killed two teens and put a third in the hospital.

As an online petition urging Fairfax County to prioritize regular maintenance and new safety features surpassed 12,000 signatures, Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity — who represents the area — met with state and county transportation staff to discuss short, mid and long-term options for addressing long-standing safety concerns.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck and Del. Kathy Tran (D-42) also attended the meeting yesterday (Wednesday).

“Both VDOT and County staff came to the meeting with ideas for improving the safety of the road and will be working to address the feasibility and timing of these potential improvements including those recommended by residents,” Herrity tweeted, adding that another meeting will be held next week.

A key connection between Lorton via Route 123 and the Burke/Fairfax Station area, Lee Chapel Road has been the site of 243 vehicle crashes since 2011, resulting in 148 injuries and two deaths, according to state data.

That includes the fatal Jan. 10 crash, where a sedan veered off the road while going over a hill approaching the Fairfax County Parkway intersection, according to police. The crash killed 16-year-old South County High School students Ariana Haftsavar and Ashlyn Brotemarkle, who were identified publicly by family and friends.

Started by classmates of Ariana and Ashlyn, the petition says local residents have been questioning the road’s safety for years, noting that a 19-year-old died in a crash at the same intersection in 2015.

“The solution for this conflict is to keep the road maintained regularly by doing something big like putting in safety features to something small like filling in potholes,” the petition says. “Safety features include signs that blink when you are to slow down at turns, road lights, safety signs before the road starts, and guardrails.”

After the last week’s crash, the Virginia Department of Transportation added “optical speed bars” on the road last Friday (Jan. 13). The striped markings are thought to reduce speeds on curves with an optical illusion that makes drivers aware of how fast they’re going.

“We are saddened to hear of the loss of two of our community members,” VDOT said in a statement. “As is customary, we allow time for the police department to fully investigate the crash to determine the facts, circumstances, and cause. Once we receive the finalized police report, our Traffic Engineering group will perform a safety review of the location.” Read More

Northbound Lee Chapel Road approaching Fairfax County Parkway (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 5:35 p.m.) Two people died and one person was critically injured when a Lexus ran off Lee Chapel Road near Fairfax County Parkway in Fairfax Station last night, police say.

(Correction: This article originally described the crash as being in Burke, but it occurred on the Fairfax Station side of Fairfax County Parkway.)

The sedan had three occupants — all female teenagers — when it “crested a hill” while traveling north in the 7400 block of Lee Chapel Road shortly before 9:30 p.m., the Fairfax County Police Department reported today (Wednesday).

“The driver lost control, left the roadway and the vehicle came to rest on its roof,” police said.

An emergency crash notification went out to dispatchers at 9:26 p.m. Officers who searched the area found a 2019 Lexus IS350 off of the road.

Fire and rescue personnel pulled one teen out of the vehicle who was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, but two other teens died at the scene.

The FCPD says its detectives believe preliminarily that the car may have been speeding when it crashed. Lee Chapel Road has a speed limit of 40 mph.

“Alcohol was not a factor in the crash,” the department said.

This is the first fatal crash that the FCPD has reported this year. In a year traffic fatalities spiked across the D.C. area, Fairfax County saw 63 people, including at least 30 pedestrians, killed in 2022 — the most of any year since 2010, according to state data.

Photo via Google Maps

Fairfax County police car lights flashing (file photo)

(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) A man was struck by a bus and killed on Fairfax County Parkway this afternoon, Fairfax County police say.

Police say a preliminary investigation indicates that the man “intentionally jumped in front of a vehicle” at the Old Keene Mill Road intersection in Burke. The call for service went out at 1:48 p.m., according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

The road has been closed from Old Keene Mill to Burke Lake Road to the north. Traffic backups extend for approximately 1 mile, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s traffic information site.

The FCPD confirmed to FFXnow that the vehicle was a bus, but not a school bus.

Farmers market (via Fairfax County)

While the onset of winter usually heralds the end of farmers markets, Fairfax County announced last week that three markets around the county will brave the chill to continue into December.

“The Fairfax County Farmers Markets have extended the season at three popular market locations,” the Fairfax County Park Authority said in a release. “The Reston Farmers Market will remain open until Dec. 3, 2022; the Burke Farmers Market is open until Dec. 17, 2022; and the McCutcheon/Mt. Vernon Farmers Market will be open until Dec. 21, 2022.”

Along with the extended season, some of the markets will be getting a handful of new vendors and new wintery items typically not available in the other seasons.

“Our farmers and producers will continue to bring an abundance of winter squash, greens, apples, potatoes, fresh-baked breads, locally raised meats, and unique prepared foods,” the release said. “Extended season vendors will bring new products, such as macaroons, bagels, kombucha, Moroccan sauces and more. Be sure to visit Burke, Reston and McCutcheon/Mt. Vernon to support your favorite vendors through the season, and to welcome our new vendors.”

The farmers markets with extended hours are:

  • Burke (5671 Roberts Parkway): April 16-Dec. 17, from 8 a.m. to noon
  • Reston (1609-A Washington Plaza): April 30-Dec. 3, from 8 a.m. to noon
  • McCutcheon/Mount Vernon (2501 Sherwood Hall Lane): April 20-Dec. 21, from 8 a.m. to noon

Customers and vendors had requested a continuation into December for the Mount Vernon market — typically the last one to close just before Thanksgiving, according to Park Authority spokesperson Judith Pedersen.

The Burke and Reston markets were also chosen for extensions, because they’re held on Saturdays, are the park authority’s largest, and “have vendors with enough products and product mix to sustain a vibrant market,” Pedersen told FFXnow.

“Unfortunately, the weather is too unpredictable to extend through the winter,” she said. “However, all vendors from the other markets are invited to participate in the extended season at these markets if they have product to sell.”


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