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Southbound I-395 approaching the exit to Edsall Road in Springfield (via Google Maps)

Multiple people were taken to the hospital early yesterday morning (Sunday) after an attempted drag race on I-395 turned into a police pursuit, resulting in a crash.

According to the Virginia State Police, troopers responded to southbound I-395 around 12:16 a.m. in response to an alert that two drivers were trying to race each other along the interstate in the Springfield area.

When police attempted to make a traffic stop, one of the drivers took the exit at Edsall Road, and the other — the driver of a Toyota Camry — “sped away in the southbound lanes of I-395,” the VSP said.

“As the Camry attempted to get away, it ‘split the lane’ and tried to drive between two other southbound vehicles,” police said in a news release. “The Camry collided with both causing them to both lose control and crash near Exit 2 for Edsall Rd. Meanwhile, the Camry continued on a short distance before finally coming to a stop.”

The Camry driver — identified as a 19-year-old man from Silver Spring, Maryland — and a passenger in the sedan were both transported to a local hospital, as were individuals in the two other vehicles involved in the crash. The injuries in all cases were deemed non-life-threatening.

The Camry driver has been charged with eluding police, racing that results in an injury, damage to property and tail-light violations.

“The incident remains under investigation,” the VSP said.

Separately, state police are investigating two crashes that occurred in the I-66 West Express Lanes near the Fairfax County Parkway exit in Fair Lakes around 3:43 a.m. yesterday — an incident that coincidentally also involved a Toyota Camry.

A westbound Toyota Camry lost control, hit the right jersey wall, and then came to rest in the left travel lane. The crash caused the vehicle to lose power and go dark. Moments later, a Range Rover traveling in the left travel lane was unable to avoid striking the Camry.

Two passengers in the Range Rover were not wearing seat belts and were ejected from the vehicle. Both of them were transported to area hospitals for treatment of life-threatening injuries. The driver and a third passenger refused medical treatment at the scene.

The driver of the Camry was transported to an area hospital.

Image via Google Maps

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Fairfax County police and Virginia State Police are partnering on a “Road Shark” traffic safety campaign (courtesy FCPD)

Local and state police are on the prowl once again for dangerous driving behaviors.

The Fairfax County Police Department and Virginia State Police announced yesterday (Monday) that they have launched a “Road Shark” enforcement and education campaign for a second year with the goal of reducing aggressive driving and crashes.

Phased out for a time after getting introduced in 1999, the initiative was revived last year in response to a surge in pedestrian fatalities in 2022. With the campaign, officers issued nearly 25,000 citations and warnings during four week-long “waves” involving increased visibility and enforcement of traffic laws, particularly in locations with frequent crashes or safety issues.

The FCPD says the first “Road Shark” campaign helped the county make “significant strides in promoting safer roads.”

“Through the efforts of our officers, partners, and engaged drivers, we saw a remarkable decrease in traffic incidents and a notable improvement in overall road safety last year,” the police department said.

According to state data, the total number of crashes in Fairfax County went up in 2023, as did the number of injuries, but fatalities dropped to 42 after soaring to 66 in 2022 — the most since Virginia’s Traffic Records Electronic Data System (TREDS) launched in 2010. Ten of the people killed in crashes last year were pedestrians compared to 32 in 2022.

Less than three full months into 2024, however, the county’s death toll has already reached nine for people killed in vehicles — most recently, in a head-on collision on Fairfax County Parkway — and five for pedestrians, two of them on Richmond Highway, two on I-495 and one on Buckman Road in Mount Vernon.

The I-495 and Buckman Road fatal crashes all occurred in the morning of March 10.

Like last year, this year’s “Road Shark” campaign will combine enforcement with education, all based on data collected by police, according to the FCPD:

  • High Visibility Enforcement (HiVE): FCPD officers will be strategically conduct enforcement and education areas all over the county to deter unsafe driving behaviors. Officers will be looking for an array of traffic violations including aggressive driving, excessive speeding, driving under the influence, school zone violations, distracted driving, and others. A recent NHTSA synthesis of studies concluded that high-visibility enforcement efforts such as these reduced crashes and improved safety outcomes in study locations.
  • Community Engagement and Education: FCPD encourages all community members to play an active role in road safety by adhering to traffic laws, promoting responsible driving behavior, and reporting any concerns to local law enforcement. Road Shark 2024 will involve community engagement, communication, and education to help educate our residents on safe driving practices and raise awareness about the importance of road safety.
  • Data-Informed Decision Making: Fairfax County police officers, along with Virginia State troopers, will utilize data-informed enforcement strategies and operations that target areas with high crash concentrations to reduce crashes. This allows us to identify trends, address specific areas of concern, and implement effective strategies to best address road safety issues.

“The Road Shark campaign will once again bring together law enforcement, community organizations, and community members to address and mitigate traffic safety challenges,” the FCPD said. “Through increased patrols, targeted enforcement, and educational outreach, the FCPD aims to create a safer and more secure environment for all road users.”

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The ramp from Richmond Highway (Route 1) ramp to I-95 South (via Google Maps)

A Maryland man who fled police in a reportedly stolen vehicle is facing multiple charges of assault against Virginia state troopers.

According to the Virginia State Police, troopers received an alert around 3:41 a.m. yesterday (Sunday) that a gray sedan reported to have been stolen might be traveling on Richmond Highway (Route 1) in the Huntington area.

The vehicle was spotted by a trooper who turned on his lights and siren for a traffic stop, but the driver instead “sped away and initiated a pursuit,” police said.

As the chase moved onto the Capital Beltway (I-495) and then onto southbound I-95, the driver rammed a state police patrol vehicle four different times, according to the VSP:

As the pursuit approached Route 1 and Interstate 495, the suspect vehicle twice rammed a State Police patrol vehicle. The pursuit then continued onto Interstate 495 westbound, where the suspect struck the same trooper’s vehicle a third time, and then onto Interstate 95 southbound, where the trooper’s vehicle was struck a fourth time.

Police ultimately used a precision immobilization technique (PIT) maneuver to turn and halt the vehicle on I-95 near the Backlick Road exit, the VSP said.

“The driver then fled the vehicle on foot, but was taken into custody a few minutes later without further incident,” police said.

The driver — described as a 24-year-old man from College Park, Maryland — faces four charges each of assault on law enforcement, felony hit-and-run, misdemeanor hit-and-run and destruction of state property. He has also been charged with eluding law enforcement, grand larceny, driving without a license, not wearing a seatbelt and “being a pedestrian on the interstate.”

The last charge stems from the brief foot pursuit, a VSP spokesperson confirmed.

Police also arrested two adults who were passengers in the sedan on outstanding warrants.

The Fairfax County Police Department said in its year-end crime report for 2023 that it saw an uptick in assaults against police officers compared to 2022.

Image via Google Maps

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Virginia State Police vehicle (photo by John Calhoun/JC Photography)

A driver involved in one of the two fatal pedestrian crashes that occurred on the Capital Beltway this past Sunday (March 10) was allegedly intoxicated and didn’t have a valid license, according to the Virginia State Police.

Carlos Nunez Morales, a 26-year-old Woodbridge resident, has been charged with driving under the influence, involuntary manslaughter and driving with a revoked or suspended license after police say he hit and killed a pedestrian on I-495 near the Telegraph Road exit in the Rose Hill area.

According to the VSP, Morales was driving a 2003 Dodge Ram in the westbound lanes of I-495 around 3:38 a.m. when he veered off the left side of the interstate and hit Gregory Bruington, Jr., who was changing a tire on a 2017 Volkswagen Golf parked on the highway’s left shoulder.

Bruington, a 30-year-old man from Newport News, died at the scene, and a 24-year-old, female passenger in the Volkswagen “was seriously injured,” a police spokesperson said in an update this morning (Thursday).

“Nunez Morales suffered minor injuries,” state police said. “He was not wearing a seat belt.”

The crash occurred just minutes before a separate crash in the eastbound lanes of I-495 near the same exit that also killed a pedestrian.

Around 3:53 a.m., responding state troopers came across a woman identified as Vanessa Schwartz, a 35-year-old Alexandria resident, lying in the interstate.

The VSP later reported that Schwartz had stepped into traffic and was hit by the driver of a 2005 Honda Accord that was traveling east on I-495 in the right-center lane

“The Accord was then struck by a 2021 Acura RDX, and the Accord then struck the jersey wall. A 2023 Nissan Rogue then struck the RDX,” police said.

Schwartz died at the scene.

Both of Sunday’s crashes on I-495 remain under investigation.

Fairfax County police are also still seeking information about a third fatal pedestrian crash that took place shortly after midnight on Sunday in Mount Vernon. In that crash, the driver of a 2015 Hyundai Sonata that had been reported stolen allegedly hit James Johnson, 63, of Hybla Valley on Janna Lee Avenue and fled the scene.

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

Two Reston men are facing multiple charges — including attempted murder in one case — after allegedly getting involved in police pursuits on the Capital Beltway last Thursday (March 7).

The first chase began around 9:54 p.m. when a Virginia State Police trooper moved to stop a Jeep Cherokee SRT for reckless driving on I-495 near S. Van Dorn Street in Rose Hill, according to the VSP.

“The Cherokee refused to stop for the trooper and a pursuit was initiated,” state police said. “During the course of the pursuit, the driver of the Jeep threw a firearm out the window. The firearm struck the ground and then the trooper’s vehicle.”

After the chase got off the Beltway, the driver hit the trooper’s vehicle with the Jeep at the Braddock Road and Twinbrook Road intersection in the Kings Park West area, the VSP said. The Jeep ultimately came to a stop on Twinbrook Road.

The driver — identified by police as Jevon T. Mark, 23, of Reston — was taken into custody and charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, eluding police, throwing missiles, reckless driving and one felony count of hit and run.

Police also detained and released two passengers in the vehicle, and the gun reportedly thrown out of the Jeep was found.

“The incident remains under investigation,” the VSP said.

The second high-speed chase of the night came less than an hour later. At 10:45 p.m., the VSP were alerted by a Maryland law enforcement agency to a stolen 2015 Chevrolet traveling across the American Legion Bridge into Virginia.

When a state trooper attempted to initiate a traffic stop on I-495 near Braddock Road, the driver refused and sped away at a high rate of speed, the VSP said. State police attempted to bring the vehicle to a stop near the Glebe Road exit in Arlington using a “pursuit intervention technique.”

Though fuzzy, a traffic camera video captured by public safety watcher Dave Statter shows the vehicle careening into a ditch by the exit ramp.

According to the VSP, the driver crawled into the trunk of the vehicle to try and hide from the troopers, who took him into custody without incident.

During the pursuit, the car rammed into one of the trooper’s cars. The trooper suffered minor injuries.

Abiselome Belachew, a 21-year-old Reston resident, has been charged with attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer, one felony count of hit-and-run for hitting the trooper’s vehicle, one felony count of eluding police, auto theft and driving on a suspended license.

Westbound I-495 approaching the exit to Telegraph Road near Alexandria (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 12:50 p.m. on 3/12/2024) Fairfax County was the site of three different fatal pedestrian crashes yesterday (Sunday), two of them occurring just minutes apart in the same proximity on the Capital Beltway (I-495).

According to the Virginia State Police, troopers responded first at 3:39 a.m. to a crash on the westbound I-495 shoulder, east of the exit to Telegraph Road at the Alexandria border.

“At this stage of the investigation, it appears an individual was on the shoulder changing a tire on a vehicle when the individual was struck by a truck,” the VSP said.

The person changing their tire died at the scene, while the truck driver was taken to a hospital for treatment. Charges in the crash “are pending,” police said in an update just before 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Then, at 3:53 a.m., police came across a woman lying in the eastbound lanes of I-495 near the Telegraph Road exit. Calls to police indicated that the woman got hit by two vehicles, according to scanner traffic on OpenMHz.

“A 2005 Honda Accord, heading eastbound in the right center lane on I-495, was unable to avoid striking a female pedestrian who had stepped into traffic,” the VSP said in an update on Tuesday (March 12). “The Accord was then struck by a 2021 Acura RDX, and the Accord then struck the jersey wall. A 2023 Nissan Rogue then struck the RDX.”

The woman, Vanessa Schwartz, 35, of Alexandria, died at the scene of the crash, which remains under investigation. A spokesperson emphasized that the two crashes “are not related.”

Police seek driver in fatal hit-and-run

Separately, Fairfax County police detectives are investigating a fatal pedestrian crash in Mount Vernon that allegedly involved the driver of a stolen vehicle.

Around 12:17 a.m., officers spotted a black 2015 Hyundai Sonata on Buckman Road near Russell Road that had been reported stolen overnight on Saturday (March 9) from the 7900 block of Sausalito Place, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

“The driver of a stolen Sonata sped away at the sight of the police. Officers did not pursue,” the FCPD said.

An officer saw the sedan “traveling at a high rate of speed” north on Janna Lee Avenue about 15 minutes later.

“The driver sideswiped an occupied vehicle near Tamarind Street,” police said. “Officers followed the direction the driver was traveling and located the stolen vehicle crashed into a dumpster and unoccupied.”

A man later identified as James Johnson, 63, of Hybla Valley was found in the grass nearby after he had apparently been hit by a vehicle. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

According to the FCPD, its Crash Reconstruction Unit detectives believe the driver of the stolen Hyundai hit Johnson while he was walking on Janna Lee Avenue before crashing into the dumpster. The driver wasn’t located, and the police department doesn’t have a description “at this time.”

The crash remains under investigation.

There have now been five pedestrian deaths in Fairfax County this year, including two fatal crashes on Richmond Highway in February.

Image via Google Maps

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Westbound traffic I-66 by the Vienna Metro station (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Virginia State Police will be quick to call foul on any drivers behaving poorly on I-66 before, during and after the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers’ big game this Sunday (Feb. 11).

With many sports fans planning visits to their local bar or stocking up on snacks and drinks for at-home Super Bowl parties, state troopers from the Fairfax and Culpepper divisions will have an increased presence in the 76-mile-long I-66 corridor throughout the weekend.

Dubbed “Operation Diss-rupt,” the traffic enforcement and safety initiative will take place from Saturday to Monday (Feb. 10-12) and focus on distracted and impaired driving, speeding and seat belt use, the VSP announced yesterday (Thursday).

“The weekend of the Super Bowl is an excellent time to ‘tackle’ bad driving behaviors,” VSP Bureau of Field Operations Director Lt. Col. Matt Hanley said. “Additional state troopers will be on patrol along the entire I-66 corridor to enhance highway safety for all motorists. We ask Virginians to ‘DISS-rupt’ risky driving behaviors by focusing on the roads and by designating a sober driver, especially if your Super Bowl celebration includes alcohol.”

According to the VSP, its troopers charged 23 drivers with driving while intoxicated during last year’s Super Bowl Sunday.

Preliminary data shows that 839 people died in traffic crashes on Virginia roads last year, state police said. In Fairfax County, 15 people were killed in crashes involving alcohol in 2023, and there have already been 45 such crashes, including one fatality, recorded this year, according to Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles data.

After the county saw an uptick in traffic-related deaths in 2022, especially among pedestrians, the Fairfax County Police Department conducted a “Road Shark” campaign last spring and summer to address speeding, phone usage and other unsafe driving behaviors. The campaign resulted in almost 25,000 citations and warnings to drivers.

This weekend’s I-66 crackdown will the VSP’s second “Operation Diss-rupt” campaign after the agency similarly stepped up patrols of I-95 on Jan. 10-11.

“State Troopers cited 120 drivers for reckless driving, 117 drivers for speeding, 33 drivers for violating Virginia’s ‘Hands Free’ law, and 25 drivers and passengers for seatbelt violations (one improperly restrained child),” the VSP said in a press release. “There were no fatal crashes along the interstate during the enforcement period.”

Setting a goal of reducing crashes in general by 10% this calendar year, the VSP says it hopes to see no fatal crashes while the operation is in effect this weekend, advising drivers to follow basic traffic laws:

  • Ditch Distractions: Virginia has a “Hands-Free” law that prohibits a driver from holding a handheld personal communications device while driving. GPS and making phone calls are still legal, as long as the device is mounted and/or not in your hands.
  • Never Drive Impaired: Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is illegal in Virginia. Even buzzed driving is drunk driving. Always designate a sober driver or use public transportation or a ride-hailing service.
  • Comply with Speed Limits: Posted speed limits on Virginia interstates never exceed 70 mph. So, neither should your speed. Speed-related crashes claimed 441 lives in 2022 in Virginia. Simply, drive to save lives.
  • Seat Belt Safety: Virginia law requires all front seat occupants of motor vehicles be restrained, and any passenger from birth to 18 years old be properly restrained in an appropriate child safety seat or seat belt, no matter their seating position.
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I-66 West lanes were blocked last night for a fatal three-vehicle crash near Nutley Street (via VDOT)

A woman died last night (Wednesday) after crashing into a tow truck that was responding to an earlier multi-vehicle collision on I-66, the Virginia State Police announced this morning.

Troopers were called first at 6:31 p.m. yesterday to a “chain reaction crash” that involved three vehicles in the westbound lanes of I-66 at the 51-mile marker in the Centreville area.

“One driver suffered minor injuries, but declined treatment,” police said.

However, police were called just minutes later, around 6:49 p.m., to a second three-vehicle crash on I-66 West near the exit to Nutley Street outside Vienna

“A tow truck was responding to the original crash and had slowed to a stop when it was rear-ended by a Jeep Compass SUV,” the VSP said. “The impact of the crash caused the Jeep to spin out into the westbound travel lane and strike a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.”

The Jeep driver was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where she died from her injuries later in the evening, according to police. The tow truck driver was also hospitalized with injuries not considered life-threatening.

The Toyota pickup driver didn’t report any injuries, police said.

The crash near Nutley Street completely shut down both the regular and express lanes on westbound I-66. The lanes didn’t fully reopen until around 11 p.m., according to Twitter updates from the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Police are also investigating a third, separate crash that occurred on I-66 East before Route 50 at 7:35 p.m. yesterday. One driver was transported to a hospital after a two-vehicle crash near the 56-mile marker, a VSP spokesperson said.

Image via VDOT traffic camera

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

(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) Virginia State Police are seeking witnesses in a possible shooting incident that occurred this morning (Thursday) near the I-495 and Dulles Toll Road interchange in Tysons.

Troopers responded at 6:08 a.m. to a driver stopped in the shoulder along the Capital Beltway’s northbound lanes near the exit to the toll road’s westbound lanes, according to the VSP and scanner traffic on Open MHz.

The driver wasn’t injured, but he reported that his vehicle “had a bullet hole in its passenger side,” state police said.

Starting around 10:30 a.m., the VSP closed all northbound lanes on the Beltway at Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) to the toll road as it investigates the shooting.

“State police has requested the closure so we can search for any possible evidence connected to the vehicle that was shot,” a VSP spokesperson said.

The closure was expected to last 30 to 45 minutes.

State police are seeking potential witnesses, asking anyone who saw “suspicious activity in this area between 5:50 a.m. and 6:05 a.m.” to reach out by phone at 804-750-8798 or by email at questions@vsp.virginia.gov.

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A vehicle fire has snarled rush-hour traffic on the Capital Beltway in Springfield.

A truck caught fire around Backlick Road just west of the Springfield Mixing Bowl, where I-495 meets I-395. The left and express southbound lanes on I-495 were closed for the fire, creating traffic backups that extended about two miles, as of 5:21 p.m., according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The Virginia State Police confirmed that the fire wasn’t related to a crash, and no injuries have been reported.

There was no indication of what caused the fire, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department spokesperson Ashley Hildebrandt told FFXnow.

As of 5:24 p.m., the fire had been extinguished, according to Hildebrandt.

Traffic camera photo via VDOT

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