(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) About 100 residents packed the auditorium at Nottingham Elementary School last night, less than three weeks after a mother placing a child in her minivan was killed by a dump truck in front of the school.
Arlington County Police Chief Doug Scott gave members of the Williamsburg Civic Association updates on the investigation into the death of 39-year-old Jennifer Lawson, and he took questions from more than 20 residents, most of whom demanded action to increase pedestrian safety in the area.
Scott said the driver of the truck was neither speeding nor distracted when his vehicle struck Lawson’s minivan.
“The driver has been very cooperative with the investigation,” Scott said. “We’ve done a forensic exam of his cell phone and that was not an issue… This was not a cut-through traffic situation. This gentleman was doing contract work in your neighborhood. He had been in and out of the neighborhood a couple of times that day.”
“It was a matter of inches,” he said.
Speakers said the police presence in the area for a few days after the collision has since disappeared, leading many to criticize the police’s presence along Lee Highway nearby, where cars are frequently stationed for hours. Scott said that squad cars are placed where there are the most complaints, but even if they were in the residential neighborhood, “a majority of the tickets we write are to people who live in those communities.”
Julie Monticello, a mother of six who lives on N. Ohio Street across from the school, said members of the community have to also look inward after the accident.
“I couldn’t sleep that night not only because of Jen, but also because of that dump truck driver, because it could have been any of us,” she said, while fighting back tears. “I know that’s so hard to say. That man is not a murderer, everyone should say a prayer for that man, because he’s not a murderer.”
Monticello was not the only person to get emotional while speaking on the microphone. Richard Sheehey, who lives on N. Kensington Street, choked up several times during his plea for speed bumps and a lower speed limit on his street and throughout the neighborhood. There had been a traffic calming committee a few years ago, Sheehey said, but they were one vote from approving changes and the committee has since been disbanded.
“I get very emotional about this,” he said. “I don’t want to see what happened to Jen happen to any one of our kids… Nobody likes speed bumps, but it’s the No. 1 way to slow traffic down. If a car hits a child at 25 mph, that child has a good chance of survival. If a car hits a child at 35 mph, that kid’s going to die. So please help us.”
Del. Patrick Hope (D) was in attendance, and told the civic association that he plans to introduce a bill in the House of Delegates next year that would allow localities to lower their speed limits below the state minimum of 25 mph to 20 mph. A majority of the speakers agreed that even 20 mph was too fast for the streets in the area.
“Fifteen miles-per-hour just tells people that there are people crossing the street,” Monticello said. “When there’s children crossing the street constantly, the speed limit has to be 15. Twenty-five doesn’t send the message.” (more…)
(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A memorial fund has been established for Jennifer Lawson, the Arlington mom who was killed after being struck by a dump truck in front of Nottingham Elementary School yesterday morning.
Lawson, 39, was placing her two-year-old daughter in the rear seat of her minivan, after volunteering at the school, when the truck struck her and the side of the van. Her daughter was unhurt. Her two sons, who attend Nottingham, were inside the school at the time.
The family had recently returned from a vacation to Costa Rica, we’re told.
A close friend of the family, Trent Livingston, has set up a fund to “help offset the unforeseen costs of this tragic event” and to benefit Lawson’s three children. He hopes to raise $5,000.
“[Jennifer] was such a great mom, so devoted to her husband and her family,” Livingston told ARLnow.com from his home in Seattle. “She leaves behind so many friends who love her so much. This has just been so shocking and so terrible.”
As of 11:30 a.m. the fund had raised $620. As of 3:15 p.m. it had raised $7,439.
So far, no charges have been filed against the driver of the dump truck. That could change at any minute, though.
“Because of the nature of the accident, the investigation is going to take a little longer,” according to Arlington County Police spokesman Lt. Michael Watson. “It’s much more in-depth than most accident investigations.”
(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) A woman has died after being struck by a dump truck on N. Little Falls Road, in front of Nottingham Elementary School.
The incident happened around 11:30 a.m. as the woman was placing a young child in the rear seat of her minivan, which was parked on the side of the street, according to police. The force of the collision sheared off the van door but the child was uninjured.
The woman, identified as 39-year-old Jennifer Lawson, was reported to be unconscious when paramedics arrived. She was rushed to the trauma center at Inova Fairfax Hospital but died this afternoon, police said.
The child was not a student at the school, but Lawson does have other children who attend the school, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Lt. Michael Watson. The child, a little girl, could be seen being picked up from the school by a friend or family member about an hour after the incident.
Little Falls Road was shut down for most of the day as police investigated the accident. It as since reopened.
The truck belongs to Titan Erosion Control of Manassas. So far there’s no word on any pending charges against the driver.
“The investigation remains ongoing,” Watson told ARLnow.com around 5:00 p.m. Witnesses who have not yet talked to officers are being encouraged to call police.
“Police are asking that anyone with any information regarding this accident contact Arlington County Police Detective Mohammed Tabibi at (703) 228-4618, or at Mtabibi@arlingtonva.us,” ACPD said via a press release.
Norovirus Outbreak at Nottingham Elementary — Dozens of students at Nottingham Elementary School have been sickened in what is believed to be an outbreak of norovirus. The contagious stomach illness causes serious nausea and vomiting. So far, Arlington Public Schools officials have not responded to a request for more information from ARLnow.com. [WJLA]
County Board Not Interested in Meals Tax Changes — In response to a speaker at Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting who was critical of the county’s 4 percent meals tax, County Board members said they’re not inclined to make any changes to the tax. The meals tax is levied on restaurant bills and on the purchase of prepared meals from grocery stores, on top of the state’s 5 percent sales tax. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Org Targeted By IRS — The Clarendon-based Leadership Institute, a conservative training organization, says it was among the conservative groups targeted for audits and extra scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service. [Washington Free Beacon]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Starting tonight and continuing each day this weekend, races will temporarily close down some Arlington roads.
The Arlington County Police Department is assisting with controlling traffic during a 5K and 10K race around Yorktown High School on Sunday, April 14.
The following restrictions will be in effect from 7:30-11:00 a.m.:
- Yorktown Blvd will be closed to westbound and eastbound traffic from N. 30th Street to N. Edison Street
- N. 28th Street will be closed to northbound and southbound traffic from Yorktown Blvd to N. Greenbrier Street
- Yorktown Blvd will be open to eastbound traffic from N. Edison Street to N. 26th Street
Residents are asked to park their vehicles in driveways instead of on the street in order to reduce the congestion in the affected areas. Anyone with questions or concerns regarding the impact to the community can contact Lieutenant Bob Medairos at 703-228-4160.
Roads will also be closed temporarily for the Nottingham Elementary 5K on Saturday (April 13) and the Crystal City 5K Friday tonight. Drivers are advised to find other routes during the affected times.
Several north Arlington streets will be closed Saturday for the annual Nottingham Elementary 5K run/walk.
The race will be kicking off around 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 13 at Nottingham Elementary (5900 Little Falls Road). Registration is $25 if booked by the end of the day today, then $30 thereafter. Proceeds from the race will go toward Nottingham Elementary School PTA programs.
Arlington County Police will close the following lanes and roads Saturday morning.
- Williamsburg Boulevard will be closed to eastbound traffic from Little Falls Road to N. Harrison Street from 7:30 – 10:30 a.m.
- Little Falls Road will be closed from Williamsburg Boulevard to N. Harrison Street from 7:30 – 10:30 a.m.
- N. Ohio Street will be closed from N. 26th Street to Williamsburg Boulevard from 7:30 – 10:30 a.m.
“Along the race course, temporary road closures will be necessary as the race moves throughout the neighborhood,” police said in a press release. “Residents of the affected areas will be escorted through the traffic closures to minimize the impact on the community. All road closures will be reopened by 10:30 a.m.”
“Residents are asked to park their vehicles in driveways to reduce the congestion on the affected streets to allow more runners through the neighborhood as quickly as possible, which will result in a return to normal conditions,” the police department added.
Last American WWI Vet Buried in Arlington — Army Cpl. Frank Buckles, the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran, was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. Earlier in the day, President Obama and Vice President Biden stopped by to pay their respects as Buckles lay in repose in a cemetery chapel. [American Forces Press Service]
Underground Explosion Rocks Pike Townhouse Complex — An underground explosion caused a manhole cover to fly across the backyard of a townhouse complex near Columbia Pike yesterday morning. Firefighters are still trying to determine what caused the blast, but a strong gasoline-like odor could be smelled in the area. The gas also apparently caused fires to start near water heaters inside the townhouses. The complex is across the street from an auto repair shop and next to Four Mile Run. [ABC 7]
County Offers Tree Grants to Neighborhood Groups — Arlington is offering grants to local groups that want to plant trees on private property in the county. Grant applications are due in July, but groups must file a notice of intent next month. [Sun Gazette]
Pike Apartment Community May Be Redeveloped — Renovations or an out-and-out redevelopment may be in the works for the Greenbrier Apartments at 4975 Columbia Pike. The garden-style apartments were built in 1949 and are considered market-rate affordable. Arlington recently revised its affordable housing goals. [Pike Wire]
Nottingham PTA 5K This Weekend — The Nottingham Elementary PTA 5K Run/Walk is being held this weekend, with a course that will wind through part of North Arlington. Registration for the race ends tomorrow morning. [Active.com]