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Fatal crash on I-495 (photo courtesy Virginia State Police)

The Virginia State Police (VSP) has released more details about a single-vehicle crash on Sunday morning that left one driver dead.

VSP said they responded to the crash on the Beltway near the exit to the Georgetown Pike around 6 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11.

“A tractor-trailer traveling north on Interstate 495 ran off the road, struck the guardrail and then a pole near Exit 44/Georgetown Pike,” VSP said in a release.

VSP said the driver of the tractor-trailer was Damaree Sanders, 33, from Raeford, North Carolina. VSP said Sanders died at the scene.

The crash remains under investigation.

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A driver lost control of their vehicle last month on Spring Street (Photo via Stephanie Frye).

(Updated on Sept. 13 and Sept. 14 to clarify an accident account and add attribution) Increased redevelopment in the Town of Herndon’s transit-oriented core may come with a price: increased concerns about road safety in quiet neighborhoods designed for low speeds, town officials say.

Late last month, a Jeep flipped over on Spring Street, hitting a tree right in front of a home. The driver reportedly lost control of the vehicle, police said. 

A series of crashes in the area have prompted the creation of a neighborhood coalition that is calling on the town for change. Most of the residents are in and around Spring Street.

At the forefront of that effort is Stephanie Frye, who claims she was almost struck by a drunk driver in the middle of the day while walking her dog on the sidewalk of Spring Street in downtown Herndon. 

She said a police officer told her the driver was going nearly 60 mph on a street where the speed limit is 25 mph. The driver crashed into another car and ended up on the frontward of a home on 651 Spring Street, destroying a concrete pillar on the site, she says.

The Town of Herndon said that there is no record that the individual was going nearly 60 mph on the road, according to a town spokesperson. The police department’s police report characterizes the incident as a DUI.

Since that May 2018 incident, Frye and other residents asked town officials to make the area safer. 

Part of the problem is cut-through traffic. Many drivers seem to be using Spring Street to avoid Elden Street and the Dulles Toll Road. 

The regularity of seeing a car on its side in a ditch, a road sign at a 30 degree angle from being hit, cars flipped onto their roofs, car mirrors and other parts scattered in front yards, fresh tire marks on the sidewalks, cars crashed into town establishments has become a regular occurrence,” Frye said.

But of the four crashes that happened on this stretch of Spring Street from Elden to Van Buren streets this year, speed was not even a contributing factor, according to a spokesperson for the Herndon Police Department. 

In two crashes, the drivers lost control of their vehicles. The third incident was a hit-and-run in which a car took out the sideview mirror of a car parked on the shoulder. The fourth accident was attributed to a driver who did not have the right-of-way. 

“These have been the only four accidents over a twelve month period in that portion of Spring between Elden and Van Buren,” said police department spokesperson Lisa Herndon. 

In April, residents compiled a list of incidents and mitigation measures to the town after a car crashed into a crepe myrtle on the side of the road. 

Four months later, a Jeep took out the same tree as it careened onto its roof. 

A seven-day speed study conducted by the town in mid-May found that speeds were below state standards that trigger changes to engineering traffic controls. Average speeds ranged between 28 and nearly 27 mph. 

“The town is looking at the accident and assessing the area,” Kelly Garrone, a spokesperson for the Town of Herndon, told FFXnow.

Ideas include further reducing the speed limit to 15 mph, trimming trees to make sure speed limit signs are visible, adding speed camera on Grace Street near the school zone, and adding speed cushions in particularly problematic areas. They have also suggested making residential streets for “local traffic only” and upping police enforcement. 

The stalled redevelopment of Downtown Herndon — which is on pause — and the start of service for Silver Line Phase II will likely bring more cars, town officials have noted in previous town meetings The town has several major projects in the works to add relief to area streets.

Residents wonder if it may be too late before a casualty takes place.

This isn’t the first, and certainly not the last accident that has occured on Spring Street that could have killed one of our neighbors,” Frye said.

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A Virginia State Police vehicle (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A driver nearly hit one vehicle, rammed into a Virginia State Police trooper’s vehicle, and crashed into a third vehicle head-on during a police pursuit last night (Thursday) that extended from I-395 in Arlington to South Kings Highway in Groveton.

According to state police, a trooper saw a vehicle headed northbound on I-395 nearly hit another vehicle traveling in the same direction around 10:27 p.m. yesterday. When the trooper attempted to make a traffic stop, the vehicle instead “sped away,” a news release says.

As the pursuit continued east onto the Capital Beltway (I-495), the trooper learned that Fairfax County police were searching for the vehicle in question, which had been reported stolen in the county.

“The suspect vehicle exited I-495 at Telegraph [Road] and continued through Fairfax County,” the VSP said. “At one point, the suspect vehicle intentionally rammed the trooper’s vehicle and continued to flee.”

After exiting the Beltway, the chase turned onto South Kings Highway. As it neared Telegraph Road, the pursued vehicle “struck the raised median and crossed into oncoming traffic where it struck head-on another vehicle,” according to the news release.

“The impact of the crash caused the suspect vehicle to overturn twice before coming to rest on its side,” state police said.

The pursued vehicle’s driver, an adult man, was transported to Fairfax Inova Hospital for treatment of injuries that VSP described as serious, while the driver of the vehicle that was hit went to the hospital with minor injuries.

No injuries to state police were reported.

An investigation into the incident is underway with charges forthcoming, VSP said.

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The ramp from northbound Hunter Mill Road to Dulles Toll Road East (via Google Maps)

Updated at 7 p.m. — Hunter Mill Road has fully reopened after this afternoon’s crash, per Fairfax Alerts.

Earlier: Northbound Hunter Mill Road has been closed at the Dulles Toll Road in the Reston/Wolf Trap area after two vehicles collided this afternoon (Wednesday).

A driver told FFXnow shortly after 3 p.m. that there had been an “accident” on the eastbound ramp to the toll road, and they saw fire trucks and ambulances in the area.

The Fairfax County Police Department confirmed that it has officers on the scene of a two-vehicle crash “involving a dump truck that flipped over” near Hunter Mill the toll road, also known as Route 267.

“No injuries were reported,” the FCPD said. “…Drivers are asked to use an alternative route as they work to clear the road.”

As of 4:09 p.m., all northbound lanes remain closed, with congestion building around the toll road, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s traffic information map.

Police said they currently don’t have an estimate for how long the closure will last.

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Albert Sweat, who has eight children, was killed in a crash last week (courtesy Jean Sweat)

The family of a Maryland man who died after a car struck him in a Seven Corners parking lot is seeking justice. 

Albert Sweat, 62, of Silver Spring, was killed on Thursday (Aug. 18) after two cars that were merging into the same lane collided in Wilson Blvd, Fairfax County police reported.

The driver of a 2012 Honda Civic attempted to change from the left lane to the right at the same time that the driver of a 2017 Volkswagen Jetta went from the right to the left lane. Both cars collided, causing the Volkswagen to veer off the roadway into the parking lot.

The Volkswagen hit Sweat, a construction foreman who was walking through the parking lot in the 6200 block of Arlington Blvd. The car also hit a median and an occupied 2010 GMC Yukon.

The police department is continuing to investigate the details of the crash to determine if charges will be pursued.

Family members say they want justice for Sweat, who will be remembered for his love of music — including teaching the art to his children — and his kind and loving personality. 

Jean Sweat, his eldest sister, says the incident is best described as “vehicular manslaughter.”

“Because of two irresponsible drivers…his kids will grow up without a father around. As a husband, brother, father and uncle, he will truly be missed. His demise should not be in vain,” Jean Sweat said.

He leaves behind his wife and eight children, two of which are from a previous marriage. 

His niece, Tierra Sweat, said Albert was in the area working to secure a contract for a gazebo he planned to build. He was killed in front of a guitar store — a bitter irony given his love for music. 

According to Tierra, crash witnesses indicated that the intersection where the crash occurred is prone to accidents. 

“There is a clear problem in that intersection that needs to be addressed,” she said. 

So far, police do not believe that alcohol or speed were a factor in the crash.

Still, Tierra hopes that some change can come out of her uncle’s untimely death — whether it is fines or new traffic laws or an assessment of crashes in that area. 

“This was just negligence and heinous,” she said.

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Herndon Parkway is closed to Elden Street traffic due to downed utility poles (via Herndon Police/Twitter)

A car crashed into a utility pole on the 900 block of Herndon Parkway yesterday (Wednesday) evening, resulting in an ongoing, hours-long road closure.

Shortly before 5 p.m., a driver lost control of his car in the heavy ran and crashed into a utility pole.

When crews attempted to remove the car, the wiring lost tension and caused a “chain reaction,” leading to the collapse of several other utility poles, according to police.

“The driver suffered minor injuries and was treated on-scene,” Herndon Police Department spokesperson Lisa Herndon told FFXnow.

Police advised drivers to avoid the area around Herndon Parkway and Palmer Drive, as the road closure was expected to last into this afternoon (Thursday). The parkway’s outer loop was closed at Elden Street, with traffic in both directions being diverted there.

A flagger to escort residents who need access to their homes has been positioned outside the Capital One Bank at the Herndon Parkway and Elden intersection.

Photo via Herndon Police/Twitter

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The I-66 ramp onto and off of Stringfellow Road in Fair Lakes (via Google Maps)

A woman was hospitalized after her car was hit by components of a tractor-trailer on I-66 in the Fair Lakes area.

The woman was driving onto I-66 East from Stringfellow Road around 1:34 p.m. on Friday (July 1) when her black 2015 Nissan Murano “was struck by a wheel hub and tire assembly lost from a tractor-trailer traveling west on I-66,” the Virginia State Police said on Saturday (July 2).

“The tractor-trailer continued west on I-66 and, despite a search of the area, was not located,” police said.

The woman suffered injuries considered life-threatening and was transported to Inova’s emergency room in Reston, where she’s still being treated, VSP spokesperson Corinne Geller told FFXnow yesterday (Tuesday).

Police are currently on the lookout for the tractor-trailer involved in the crash. While the available information on the vehicle is limited to the fact that it’s missing a wheel hub and tire assembly, the VSP says anyone who has information or may have witnessed the crash can call #77 or 703-803-0026, or email questions@vsp.virginia.gov.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Boats docked at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) Kitten Rescued in Groveton — Fairfax County firefighters from the Woodlawn station were dispatched to the 7000 block of Richmond Highway on Monday (June 27) after bystanders reported a stray kitten that got stuck in the engine compartment of their coworker’s SUV. First responders were able to “extriCATe the kitten without injury or damage to vehicle,” and a coworker of the original caller agreed to adopt the kitten. [FCFRD/Facebook]

(Correction: This article initially said the kitten was adopted by a firefighter, based on the department’s tweet about the incident.)

Vienna Proposes Tighter Regulation of Massage Parlors — “Council member Ray Brill Jr. requested that Town Attorney Steven Briglia provide possible town-code amendments to address the proliferation of massage establishments in Vienna and its surroundings, as well as possible illegal activity at unlicensed businesses.” [Sun Gazette]

Hidden Oaks Nature Center Reopens — “The newly expanded and renovated Hidden Oaks Nature Center reopened to the public on June  25. The nature center, at 7701 Royce St. in Annandale, had been closed for the past two years, first because of the Covid pandemic, then due to construction.” [Annandale Today]

Two Sent to Hospital by I-495 Crash — “Monday, 11:21 AM, units responded to I495 NB after Route 7 for 3 vehicle crash impacting main & express lanes. 1 van overturned. Crews worked efficiently to treat/transport 2 patients to hospital w/minor injuries. All lanes initially shutdown but reopened w/in 20 minutes.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

McLean Bible Church Lawsuit Dismissed — “The year-long legal fight between McLean Bible Church and a faction who accused leaders including David Platt of a ‘theological takeover’ has come to an end. On Friday, a Fairfax, Virginia, court dismissed a lawsuit from a group of current and former members of the Washington DC-area megachurch, who contested a June 2021 elder election for allegedly violating church bylaws.” [Christianity Today]

Reston Elementary School Gets Funds for Garden — “Lake Anne Elementary was recently awarded a $1,200 grant from EcoRise to create a community food garden. ‘It is our goal to produce food we can share with a food bank or members from our school community,’ said Consuelo Bachelet, a second-grade teacher at the school.” [Patch]

Fairfax County Eager to Draw FBI to Springfield — “No matter where it lands, federal officials suggest the FBI headquarters could host at least 7,500 personnel — about 3,500 fewer than what was pitched the last time around. Time, though, has only strengthened Springfield’s hand, [Board Chair Jeff] McKay said.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Board Approves $1M to Create Fund for Startups — “Fairfax Founders Fund will provide early capital to startup companies in Fairfax County.   The fund will target early-stage technology companies with technical assistance grants of up to $50,000 to help them prepare for later stage investments.” [Department of Economic Initiatives]

Reston Electric Vehicle Company Announces New Investors — “Reston, Virginia-based Electrify America…counts German industrial giant Siemens AG among its big backers…Volkswagen has also increased its investment in the company. Siemens is the first outside investor. The new funding totals $450 million and values Electrify America at $2.45 billion, the company said.” [WTOP]

It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 84 and low of 66. Sunrise at 5:48 am and sunset at 8:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A Ben and Jerry’s truck hands out ice cream in a Vienna neighborhood (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Criminal Case for Bijan Ghaisar Shooting Ends — The Justice Department won’t reopen a federal investigation into two U.S. Park Police officers who fatally shot McLean resident Bijan Ghaisar in 2017. Ghaisar’s family called the decision “a betrayal,” but it will allow their civil lawsuit that has been pending since October 2020 to move forward. [WTOP, The Washington Post]

Police Look for Man Reported Missing — “53YO Juan Ward last seen at 12:47pm on May 25 in 12500 blk of Dillingham Sq. in Woodbridge. 5’11”, 185lbs, black/grey hair, brown eyes, wearing a long-sleeve grey sweatshirt. Missing under unusual circumstances. Call 703-691-2131 w/info.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Two Rescued from Vehicle Crash on I-95 — “Approximately 3 a.m. [Saturday], units were on scene of a one vehicle crash, I-95 NB prior to Telegraph Rd. Rescue Squads 426 and 411 extricated two patients who were heavily entrapped in a pick up truck. Fire Department, City of Alexandria, VA assisted. Transported w/ non-life-threatening injuries.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Seven Displaced by Annandale House Fire — “At 3:09 a.m., units dispatched for a house fire in the 3900 block of Terrance Drive, Annadale. Units arrived with fire showing. Multiple occupants were removed or assisted from the home by #FCFRD. No reported injuries. 7 displaced.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

FCPD Continues Oakton Crash Site Investigation — “On Thursday morning, Fairfax County Police returned to the scene of a deadly crash involving seven Oakton High students. They said they came back to do more investigating to make sure they give the commonwealth’s attorney the evidence he needs to decide on charges.” [ABC7]

Armed Robbery Reported in Tysons — “1700 block of Tysons Central Street, 6/8/22, 2:44 a.m. Four men approached the victim when he exited his taxi. Two men displayed firearms, took property, and fled the area in a vehicle.” [FCPD]

Annandale School Starts Principal Search — “Annandale Terrace parents will soon have an opportunity to participate in the selection process for a new principal. The current principal, Lisa Pilson, will start a new job July 1 as director of early childhood curriculum and grants management with Fairfax County Public Schools.” [Annandale Today]

Lifeguard Shortage Not an Issue in Reston — As of Wednesday (June 8), Reston Assocation has managed to hire 186 lifeguards for its swimming pools, a number it didn’t meet last year until September. While many pools across the country have struggled to find staff, RA says it retained 71% of lifeguards from last year and will continue hiring through the season to prepare for next year. [Patch]

It’s Monday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 85 and low of 72. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Update at 5:35 p.m. — Two of the three teenage pedestrians that were struck in a crash in Oakton this morning have died from their injuries, Fairfax County Police said. The three pedestrians that were struck were Oakton High School students, police said.

Earlier: Five juveniles were transported to the hospital this afternoon (Tuesday) after a car crashed into an SUV, then ricocheted into a group of three teenage pedestrians and a utility pole in Oakton, Fairfax County police said.

The three pedestrians have life-threatening injuries and the driver and front passenger of the car were transported with non-life-threatening injuries, Maj. Eli Cory said at a press conference. Rear passengers in the car — a white BMW — fled the scene, he said.

Just before noon, the BMW was traveling southbound on Blake Lane while a green Toyota 4Runner was traveling northbound. The 4Runner waited for the three teens to cross the roadway and then started to turn onto Five Oaks Road.

“The BMW, which we believe was traveling at a very high rate of speed, made impact with the Toyota on the front driver’s side of the vehicle, that caused the initial part of the crash to occur,” Cory said.

The white BMW then struck the three pedestrians and hit a pole before coming to a rest down the street, Cory said.

Officers were directing traffic this afternoon through the intersection, which had debris scattered around the south side of Blake Lane.

The toppled wooden utility pole was downed onto Blake Lane. A Dominion Energy truck arrived on the scene around 1:30 p.m.

Safety at the intersection is becoming a growing concern of some residents, including Nancy Degrendi, who lives nearby on Five Oaks Road.

Though she wasn’t present when the crash occurred, Degrendi could hear helicopters circling the neighborhood and came out to see what had happened after learning that there had been a crash from WTOP.

She says the intersection sees a lot of people walking to and from the nearby Vienna Metro station and Oakton High School, which had released students three hours early today. Mosaic Elementary School is also just half a mile away.

Traffic can be particularly tough in the mornings, when Degrendi takes her son to a nearby private school. In addition to worrying about vehicle speeds, she has complained to the Virginia Department of Transportation about northbound drivers making U-turns on Blake Lane.

“This intersection is becoming more and more of a problem,” Degrendi told FFXnow.

Angela Woolsey contributed to this report.

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