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BREAKING: Man Charged in Fatal Christmas Eve Accident

by ARLnow.com — January 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm 2,925 80 Comments

Firefighters work to extricate the driver of a vehicle involved in a critical accident on Glebe Road (photo courtesy "Dixie")

A 21-year-old Alexandria man has been charged in the Christmas Eve death of a pedestrian in Ballston.

Farhan Khan (photo courtesy ACPD)The victim, 30-year-old Shabnam Motahhar-Tehrani of Nokesville, Va., was standing on a sidewalk around 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve when the suspect ran a red light, according to police, causing a crash.

Motahhar-Tehrani was struck by the suspect’s vehicle as a result of the crash. She was transported to a local trauma center where she was pronounced dead at 8:00 p.m.

The suspect, Farhan Mohammad Khan, was charged with involuntary manslaughter after an investigation by the Arlington County Police Department. He’s being held without bond and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department has taken a 21 year old Alexandria man into custody on an involuntary manslaughter charge stemming from a Christmas Eve fatal pedestrian accident. Farhan Mohammad Khan, 21, of Alexandria, VA is currently being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

Khan was traveling northbound on N. Glebe Road at 4:30 p.m. on December 24, 2012 when he ran a red light and struck a vehicle in the intersection of N. Randolph Street. The accident caused his vehicle to spin out of control, striking 30 year old Shabnam Motahhar-Tehrani of Nokesville, VA as she was standing on the sidewalk. She was pronounced dead at INOVA Fairfax Hospital at 8:00 p.m. that evening.

The involuntary manslaughter charge is a Class 5 felony and carries a maximum sentence of up to ten years.

Photo (top) courtesy “Dixie.” Photo (middle right) courtesy ACPD.

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  • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

    Good. Bad drivers need to face real consequences for their actions, especially when they severely injure and kill people.

    I’d like to challenge your (and many publications’, really) use of the the word “accident” here. He ran a light. HIs action was intentional. This was a crash, not an accident. Accidents imply no fault. The facts, if they are as presented, clearly show that he is at fault.

    • Buckingham Bandit

      It is hard to find any sympathy for the motorist in this case, given what we know.

      I also wonder if we take automobile education serious enough in this country. I don’t think enough drivers appreciate how deadly automobiles can be.

      • FourEyes

        Buckingham Bandit, I’ve never met a driver with a perfect record of never running a red light, speeding, etc and am really intrigued to hear about your experience. Tell me, what’s it like being a perfect driver all the time?

        • Douglas Parker

          This is an easy one.

          For starters, I’d be willing to wager that Buckingham Bandit does not have vehicular homicide under their belt.

          So perfect records aside, I’d say Buck’s comment has plenty of merit.

    • BBMS

      Eh, not exactly. Accident implies no intent. You can assign fault in an accident. Involuntary manslaughter is for unintentional deaths. He intentional action was to run the red light, the unintentional consequence was the fatality.

      • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

        In other words, his actions were intentional.

        • BBMS

          Running the red light might have been.

          But in order to be charged with involuntary manslaughter, the death has to be unintentional. That’s the law, and I assume the CA applied it correctly.

      • WeiQiang

        but it is reasonable to believe that intentionally ignoring a traffic safety device like a red light might create grave risk to people or property. i’m down with the felony.

        • BBMS

          Correct, that is why involuntary manslaughter exists. Unintentional death as the result of an unlawful act.

      • novasteve

        You can be charged with murder for unintentional deaths because recklessless often satisfies the requirement. Like shooting a gun into a house. Even if you thought the house was empty, yet you hit and kill someone, you were reckless, and can be charged with murder. Usually it’s limited to extreme recklessness.

    • J

      “He ran a light. His action was intentional.” Which I find to be very untrue in general and extremely inaccurate…

      and then I looked up his record of traffic offenses in Arlignton and Fairfax counties. I’m with you now.

      • thebrickwall

        Curious…on which website does one look up someone’s Arlington and Fairfax traffic offenses?

      • Josh S

        No, it’s a pretty big leap to say he intentionally ran red lights so that he could kill someone. Yes, repeatedly running red lights (if, in fact, he did so) would reflect a reckless disregard, but that’s still not the same thing as intent to kill.
        It was an accident. I’m with BBMS. An accident deserving of punishment, but still an accident.

        • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

          The cause of the death was the result of his intended actions. Crash, not accident.

          It’s a touchy subject, to be sure. People really resist thinking that they have something more than passing responsibility for what they do behind the wheel.

        • J

          Yeah, sorry, I meant it was still an accident, although the charges make a lot more sense. If it were some frazzled mom with a good driving record whose kid was screaming, charging would never make sense because there are just behaviors that are nearly impossible to change, so I don’t really see the point. This guy, however, has a long list of traffic offenses in the last 4 years (assuming it’s the same guy in Falls Church and then Alexandria; it might not be). And these offenses are not minor. This is why I support a strong punishment; it was an accident, but it was one that was probably caused by a rather reckless disregard for behavior. He did not intend to kill her, but we need to set up the right incentives so that the whole world does not drive like this fellow.

          Court records are here:

          http://epwsgdp1.courts.state.va.us/gdcourts/captchaVerification.do?landing=landing

          Once you verify you’re not a bot, select a court on the left, search by name; I looked in Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax County. Found lots of stuff in Arlington and Fairfax. Might have more still. I’m not 100% sure it’s the same guy though; there might be two people. Either way, it’s still not a a very good driving record.

          • Beth M

            Wow. Thanks for the link. Yes, it does make sense. There are a lot of pretty serious infractions on there — clearly nothing made him think twice about his driving behavior however.

          • Beth M.

            It’s been updated with the vehicular manslaughter, so, yes, you can tell now that it is the same guy (same DOB etc). Numerous citations, including another accident just last April, 5 different speeding violations including a 61/35 just two days before this one, numerous marijuana possession charges connected to traffic offenses. It’s amazing that this is the first time he has killed someone, as he appears to have been quite the road menace for a while.

    • WeiQiang

      i actually like this idea, save the pre-conviction flavor you propose.

      there could be some accurate and not guilt-presumptive term that the editors among us can conjure.

      • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

        Point taken on the “pre-conviction flavor” (thus my “if they are as presented,” clause). The language of accidents just makes too many people into passive actors, when they are not.

        • Josh S

          Not necessarily. I think the word is robust enough to capture what happened here as well as tripping over the rug and spilling your milk. Accidents. Accidents can be prompted by reckless disregard, but that doesn’t necessarily change them into intentional acts.

          • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

            Running a red light is not spilled milk.

          • Josh S

            No kidding.

  • Buckingham Bandit

    Please remember that a car is a heavy, dangerous piece of machinery. It is only as safe as the person operating it.

    And also, plan 5 extra minutes into your travel schedule as a buffer so that you can afford to not race through intersections.

  • Louise

    MB nailed it.

  • Use the Internet

    I think the word “collision” could replace the word “accident”, and most police departments are doing that during their investigation, people are just used to saying “accident” like they call a tissue a Kleenex. Accident implies that the collision was no one’s fault, because it was not intentional. While I do not think running the light was intentional, it still caused the collision and the subsequent death, and the driver needs to be held accountable for it.

    • Gordon Lightfoot-Ramsay

      “Collision” means a crash involving two moving entities. So you don’t collide with a person; you crash into him or her. (Also, a “wreck” is a vehicle that has crashed, not the entire scene of a crash–e.g., Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald).

      But yeah, throw this t–d in jail for a loooong time.

  • Johnny K

    is this why there is now a sign on Glebe saying something like, “CAUTION! ACCIDENT ZONE FOR NEXT 10 BLOCKS”?

    • WeiQiang the Dudelet

      are you serious?

      • Johnny K

        Yeah, I noticed it a couple days ago, it’s on southbound Glebe right by BWW.

        • Ballston

          Probably because they made the rightmost southbound lane into parking next to BWW without telling anyone a few months ago. The parking starts at 6, which is still during rush hour, so a car in front of you can randomly stop to park when you expect them to keep moving. It also creates huge backups as people try to merge in and out because the lane looked clear but turned out there were cars there.

    • Jon

      If this sign is actually there, it will hurt the prosecution case, and most certainly will be introduced by the defense.

      • Beth M.

        I really doubt it would hurt the case. He was reckless. Those signs have cropped up all around Arlington, however, and I do find them weird.

  • Steve O

    Note that ArlNow used the preferred term, “crash,” while the ACPD used “accident” in its press release. “…causing a crash” is an accurate way of describing this event. Thank you, ArlNow.

  • jose

    I know Farhan he is a good man. His intention was go through the YELLOW LIGHT. he said the light was yellow when he crossed it. Someone was making a left causing khajuraho to crash. I think the other driver should get something too. Farhan at least should get probation for the next 10 years because he supports a family. He should not

    • Arlygirl

      Technically he should not be trying to run a yellow light either. “Good man” or not, his actions caused the crash.

      • Wow

        Please don’t feed this “jose” troll.

        • unknown

          I net your one of those people who doesn’t appreciate jack in your life.

      • anonymouse

        I beg to differ, kinda sorta.

        If it’s raining, like it was the night of the accident, slamming on your brakes at a yellow light can cause your car to skid out of control.

        I’m not diminishing the seriousness of this accident, just that weather can play a part.

    • Amber Light Violation

      Entering an intersection when the light is yellow is also illegal.

      • Dan

        That’s not quite true, at least not under VA law.

        Va. Code § 46.2-833(A): “When the amber signal is shown, traffic which has not already entered the intersection, including the crosswalks, shall stop if it is not reasonably safe to continue…” Those last 8 words matter. In this case, it seems it was not reasonably safe to continue.

      • drax

        It is in DC, but not Virginia.

      • drax

        The whole point of a yellow light is that you can’t stop sometimes because you’re too close to the light. The yellow warns you that a red is coming. It’s supposed to be run if necessary.

    • Wow&Flutter

      It doesn’t matter what his INTENTION was. He made a conscious decision to run a yellow light that would likely turn red by the time he got there (and he was likely accelerating instead of braking). And the police report says the light was red anyway. Farhan’s driving record does not make him worthy of probation. Maybe you should learn a lesson from this tragedy your friend caused instead of trying to pass off the blame–which is unfortunately all to common nowadays.

  • jose

    Go to jail for something he did accidentally. He feels very bad for what he has done. Once again it was an accident. Farhan is a good man!!!!!!!!

    • Curious George

      The person he killed can’t feel bad or anything else for that matter.

      Even if he does no jail time having a felony on his record will affect him the rest of his life.

    • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

      Tell it to the judge. He may well be a good man. But he’s still one that made a very poor choice that deprived someone else of her life.

    • SD

      How is he a good man having repeated driving offenses, including a 61 in 35 just one day before this tragic accident? He couldn’t learn a lesson from all his violations, including 3 marijuanna possession in a few months, so it’s time he learn a lesson. He, and you should be happy enough that he has a family still. Maybe with ten years in the slammer he’ll appreciate it. You’ll find no sympathy for him or yourself here. Clearly his time and his needs were far more important to than anyone else in the community.

  • Bianca

    I know farhan very well and he is a good man. The situation was a complete accident and unfortunately this woman lost her life but another car hit him first and his car spun out of control, he is not all the way at fault .

    • CourthouseChris

      It’s interesting how one is able to twist the interpretation of the circumstances simply because of the cognitive dissonance of admitting that one’s friend is entirely responsible for another’s death. Your suggestion that the prior collision with another car when running a red light in any way absolves Farhan of culpability is ludicrous.

      • really?

        Have you ever been involved in a dispute over a traffic accident? There are usually at least two sides to every story. We have no idea whether the ACPD’s account of what happened is actually correct. Pretty simple-minded analysis, Chris.

        • drax

          Yes, but this is about someone who presumably didn’t witness the accident, so her side of the story is based completely on what her friend told her.

          • really?

            Drax, I know you’re inclined to comment on every article/post before thinking, but your demonstrated lack of reading comprehension regarding the above exchange is pretty stunning.

          • drax

            Really, really?

    • Wow&Flutter

      Unfortunately, Farhan made a stupid decision to run the light. And according to his driving record, he’s made a lot of stupid decisions behind the wheel. I’m not labeling him as a “bad” person, but he deserves to face the legal consequences of his actions.

  • Bob

    Glad they caught him. Hope he rots. I’ll still drive the speed limit, Keep aware of my surroundings and drive safely. You’ll always be behind me. Frustrating, ain’t it? Love to see it. I just laugh at you.

  • Arlington Northie

    Tragedy for everyone involved, the victim and her family and for this guy and his. However, if he does go to prison I hope he doesn’t get put in solitary confinment because he doesn’t deserve to be tortured.

  • jose

    I’m sure there are people doing worse out there. He does not deserve jail. The judge should make him teach a class about how a second on the road can change lives. Arlygirl your a smartass he didn’t wake up that morning and said oh Ima kill someone today. Once again it was an accident.

    • Wow

      Someone lost their life due to his gross negligence. And you’re on this board insulting people. Wonderful representation of his “friends”. You’re a real piece of work. If I were you I’d keep my rude mouth shut.

      • unknown

        Wow cool story Bro tell it again.

    • SD

      ummm, he killed someone. that’s pretty bad.

  • C-Swag

    B4 every1 gets all technical wat about the kid who killed the woman by Washington Lee ? No Jail TIME just 200 hrs of Conmunity Service , I kno both ppl who caused these accidents and they were both the same type of case so he gets 10 years and the 19 year old get nothing except Community Servce

    • Curious George

      200 hours of community service for homicide is a joke. I hope he at least has a felony on his record.

    • dk (not DK)

      Are you kidding? To me, the relevant and important difference is that, if I remember correctly, the young man in the Quincy Street accident did not have a mile-long list of flagrant traffic violations strongly suggesting either gross incompetence or callous disregard for the safety of others. He got more speeding and other tickets/violations just in Arlington in 2012 alone than most people get in an entire lifetime of driving. This man was a chronic reckless driver. What in the world would probation do for him that YEARS of traffic tickets and court appearances did not?

      I am one who believes that accidents, even deadly ones, can happen to anyone, and I argued on ArlNow that the young man involved in the Quincy Street accident was being unfairly vilified. But you won’t hear a peep out of me on this guy. This was no accident. This was repeated reckless behavior that could only have ended badly. He gets no sympathy from me.

      • dk (not DK)

        sorry–by “he got more speeding tickets in Arlington 2012,” I mean Khan, not the man responsible for the woman killed on Quincy Street.

  • Caat Grrrl

    This is a very sad story for all involved. If you read the original story, it says that the striking vehicle wrapped itself around a tree and the driver had to be cut out of the car. Going that fast at an urban intersection with a red or yellow light is very irresponsible, young and inexperienced or drunk or some of all. I’m not sure if he deserves jail since he has the torture of living with the results of his actions.

  • AL

    Since when does “accident” imply no fault? It implies no intent! “Collision” says nothing about intent and is more ambiguous!

    It’s possible that the driver did not intend to run the red light, although in this case it seems unlikely. How many times have you been in the dilemma zone–a spot in the traffic signal cycle where you aren’t certain whether to go or stop? I bet it’s more often than you’re willing to admit!

  • Sam

    One of my friends happened to be the other car Farhan hit and sideswiped. The police came back with footage of the entire accident from a random security camera. They found that Farhan was completely at fault.
    My friends car was completely trashed, and really messed her knee and back up. And oh, btw, what was he doing speeding on a night that had, rain, sleet AND minor snow??? The weather was terrible that night!!!

  • UA

    My 2 cents.. I have not seen anywhere if he was under the influence of any kind. To me that makes a huge difference in the case. I see he was charged with possession of marijuana (found it on him at the scene of the accident/charged at a later date). I do believe accidents happen and they should have a consequence but involuntary manslaughter if it was truly an accident is pretty harsh. If he was impaired in anyway by his own negligence (high or drunk) throw the book at him.

    I like to think about the “what if”. If it were a 75 year old grandmother (not impaired by choice, just old and slow) and happened to cause the exact accident I do not believe the punishment fits the crime. Lose her license for life, community service, probation and live with the fact that you killed someone.

    • anon

      A 75 year old who is just ‘old and slow’ would be just as much at fault for this type of accident for knowingly driving with impaired reaction time. Your actions behind the wheel have repercussions, especially when they cost a person their life. He was driving recklessly, put his own time ahead of others’ safety. The punishment fits his actions.

      • UA

        I disagree. Denial is very powerful, and sadly sometimes it takes an accident for someone to realize they are no longer able to safely drive. We are lucky that those accidents usually do not result in a fatality.

        • Beth M.

          UA, did you get a look at his driving record? Multiple citations, including failure to pay attention and some others that imply that he has caused accidents before.

          • Beth M

            Oops, sorry UA, I see you were referring to those whose reaction times have slowed with age. I think that we agree that this driver, given the number of violations and accidents he’s had before, he clearly should have known that he needed to slow down and drive more carefully.

    • drax

      Yes, he’s responsible either way, but there’s a difference between reckless disregard for safety (speeding, running lights, driving drunk) vs. driving reasonably yet still making an innocent mistake that couldn’t be avoided.

      • dk (not DK)

        This.

  • happy cyclist

    does it make sense to build any more auto infrastructure, or pass laws to make it safer to be a motorist, while motorists engage in this behavior? Shouldnt we wait till motorists police themselves better?

  • happyclist

    why was the motorist evcn there? Theres a highway, Interstate 66 nearby. We spend so much money for highways, why dont motorists stick to them, instead of going on local streets where they are a danger?

    • Mr. Custis

      I agree! And while we’re at it, let’s get these road bikes off my trail….and don’t get me started about all the mountain bikes I see around here. Blasphemy!

  • Bred

    Look, the “net net” is that a woman minding her own business, standing on a street corner was killed by someone who ran a red light. I don’t care about the legal nuisances if the driver is guilty of what. While Glebe & Randolph is a dangerous intersection, a reasonable person should not expect to be run down & killed while just standing on a street corner.

  • uknown

    There are many reasons why people do dumb things on the road. We don’t know what’s going on in this young man’s life. Maybe he suffered from depression. That’s why he has the charges he has. At 21 supporting his family he had to be working hard. The judge should figure out if he really is a bad kid. Because if this kid Has a future it would be heart breaking to see him go down this way.

  • tim niner

    farhan went through a yellow light. furthermore another driver making a left turn failed to yeild before making a left turn. The picture of the defendents car is attached to this article. you can clearly see that this defendent was hit broad side and did not hit anyone with the front of his car. bad record or not, you can not trump up bullsh–t charges aagainst one person, while the real guity person goes scott free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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