A Maryland man has been arrested and charged with negligent homicide following a fatal crash on Memorial Circle.
The crash occurred in the early morning hours of Friday, Oct. 11. According to police, a vehicle was heading outbound on the Memorial Bridge when it “lost control and overturned for unknown reasons” at the circle. At the time, the deceased — 36-year-old Katharine Jane Rahim of Reston — was said to be the vehicle’s sole occupant.
However, police now say the vehicle’s driver, 24-year-old Carlos Joel Alonso, fled the scene prior to the arrival of first responders.
“United States Park Police investigated the crash which revealed negligence of the operator resulting in the fatality of passenger,” according to a Park Police news release. “Alonso… left the scene [and] was found several hours later at Columbia Island Marina.”
Alonso, a Maryland resident, was arrested yesterday (Dec. 3) on charges of negligent homicide. He surrendered his passport and was released on bond, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 13.
(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) Last week, a pro-gun activist cancelled his planned open carry march from Arlington National Cemetery to the District of Columbia. The planned protest has prompted U.S. Park Police to remind the public that D.C. gun laws apply to certain portions of parkland adjacent the the Potomac River.
March organizer Adam Kokesh encouraged supporters to join him on July 4 in publicly carrying loaded rifles during the march, which he dubbed a “non-violent event, unless the government chooses to make it violent.” It was scheduled to begin at Arlington National Cemetery, and then continue over the Memorial Bridge into various parts of the District before returning to Arlington.
As widely reported, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier promised to enforce the District’s strict stringent laws, which ban the carrying of loaded weapons. Lanier suggested police might even meet the marchers at the District line. Last week organizers cancelled the march.
Yesterday, U.S. Park Police sent out a reminder that certain parcels of land along the George Washington Memorial Parkway that appear to be in Virginia — such as Theodore Roosevelt Island and Columbia Island, which includes LBJ Memorial Grove, Lady Bird Johnson Park and the Columbia Island marina — are actually in the District. Therefore, D.C. gun laws apply there.
As seen on the USPP-provided map (above), Columbia Island extends from just below the Roosevelt Bridge to the Humpback Bridge. From the press release:
The proposed “Open Carry March on Washington” that was being organized by Adam Kokesh to occur on July 4, 2013, has been cancelled by him.
The United States Park Police… want[s] to make sure the public is aware that portions of the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) is located in the District of Columbia, and that their firearm laws applies there.
Theodore Roosevelt and Columbia Islands are located in the District of Columbia. While most of the GWMP is located in Virginia, both the Theodore Roosevelt Island and Columbia Island is actually located in the District of Columbia. A good rule of thumb for Columbia Island, which includes the LBJ Memorial Grove, Lady Bird Johnson Park and Columbia Island marina, is that it surrounded by the Potomac River to the east and Boundary Channel to the west. The following are various access points that lead to Theodore Roosevelt and Columbia Islands in the District of Columbia:
- The foot bridge leading on to Theodore Roosevelt Island from the parking lot off of the GWMP southbound.
- Northbound GWMP and the Mt. Vernon Trail in the area of Humpback Bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island.
- Ramp to Rt. 50 from northbound GWMP to Columbia Island.
- Memorial Avenue to Columbia Island.
- Southbound GWMP south of Theodore Roosevelt Island to Humpback Bridge.
- Boundary Channel Dr. @ Rt. 27 to Columbia Island.
- LBJ Memorial Grove footbridge (leading from the Pentagon parking lot) to Columbia Island.
District of Columbia firearms laws apply on Theodore Roosevelt and Columbia Islands. Before entering Theodore Roosevelt and Columbia Islands, people need to know that they are located in the District of Columbia. This is important because since February 22, 2010, 16 USC 1a-7b generally provides that people can legally possess firearms if they are in compliance with the law of the State in which the park area is located.
It remains the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws. For example, D.C. Code 22-4504(a-1) provides that “[e]xcept as otherwise permitted by law, no person shall carry within the District of Columbia a rifle or shotgun.” While there are a number of public sources to locate the firearms laws, the GWMP’s website at www.nps.gov/gwmp/parkmgmt/firearms.htm has hyperlinks to the firearm laws of Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Parkland located in Arlington, meanwhile, is subject to the following Virginia gun laws.
Victoria Kong, 83, was found deceased around 2:00 p.m. just south of Gravelly Point, about 30 feet from the Mt. Vernon Trail, according to U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Brooks. Her body was found by a Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority search and rescue team, Brooks said, in a wooded area north of the airport.
Brooks was unable to release any other information about what might have happened.
“This is an ongoing investigation,” he said.
Last night, around 10:00 p.m., an SUV somehow crashed through a barrier on the south side of the Memorial Bridge and landed in the Potomac River.
The driver, the SUV’s lone occupant, escaped the watery wreck and was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Charges are now pending against the driver, according to U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Brooks.
If you’ve ever feared making a wrong turn and driving off the side of a bridge, AAA Mid-Atlantic has some potentially helpful tips for you. From a press release:
Although they are considered worst-case scenarios, such crashes rarely happen, safety officials and experts say. But that’s of little consolation to local drivers when their vehicle suddenly goes deep six or becomes a leaking boat. What you do and how you react within moments of the crash into the abyss will determine whether you live or die in a watery grave, the auto club advises. “Add darkness and near freezing water, and your chances of escape have greatly diminished,” safety experts warns.
“Although less than one-half of one percent of all automobile crashes involves a vehicle being submerged under water, it is still a very frightening situation to motorists and their terrified passengers, especially young children and the elderly,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Previous research shows that between 400 to 600 persons lose their lives each year in the United States, as their vehicles plummet into a canal, river, or a ditch for that matter.”
Annually, almost ten percent of all drowning deaths in the United States can be attributed to being submerged in a car. If children are in the car, the driver or the adult should focus on getting the children out safely first and keeping them from panicking during the petrifying ordeal. In most crashes of this nature, the heaviest end of the deep-sixed vehicle – usually the end with the engine – will begin sinking first, pulling the car down at an angle, notes Popular Mechanic. That is, unless the water is 15 feet or deeper. In that case, the vehicle may land on its roof, compounding the dangers and risks for the occupants.
Although most vehicles will float for three or four minutes before they start sinking due to the surprising buoyancy of the vehicle in deep water and depending upon on the airtightness of the vehicles, time is still of the essence, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic. The overarching concern is getting to dry land as quickly as possible. Your safety and the lives of your passengers depend upon that.
So, the first key to surviving such a mishap is remaining calm, according to safety experts. Underscoring this, the National Safety Commission puts it this way: “The first and most important thing to remember, if your vehicle is submerged, is to remain CALM – easier said than done-but it’s the most important thing you can do to stay alive.” However, the experts tend to vary on their tips. For example, the brothers Magliozzi, Tom and Ray, of NPR’s “Car Talk” say: “The correct way to get out of a sinking car is to float in the cabin until water is within about 2 inches of the roof. At that time pressure in and outside the car will be equal and it will be easy to open the door and swim out.”
- Don’t panic. Once your car hits the water it will not sink immediately (You will have at least one or two minutes before the car begins to sink, safety experts say).
- If possible, jump out while car is on surface.
- If your car is still floating, roll down the window and unbuckle your seat belt to escape.
- If your car is submerged, safety experts suggest remaining buckled up while you break the driver or passenger’s side window to escape.
- Allow the pressure of the water to equalize inside the sodden vehicle before attempting to open the doors or windows. Water weighs 62.4 lbs. per cubic foot.
- Move toward rear of vehicle where the air bubble is forming.
- Water pressure against the water-logged doors will make opening the doors very difficult until the pressure inside of the vehicle and outside of the vehicle are equal.
- Open your windows to allow yourself and your passengers to escape (Contrary to popular opinion, the “power windows won’t stop working within seconds after impact.” The power can stay on as along as 10 minutes).
The nightmarish crash from the Memorial Bridge is a reminder to motorists of the importance of carrying and keeping a sharp tool, such as a Philips screwdriver or a spring-loaded center punch, in their glove compartment or in the cabin of their vehicle. The tool is a life-saver. Here’s why: it allows you to break the tempered glass to extricate yourself and your passengers from the sinking vehicle. Other salient tips include:
- If the windows are blocked, try to push the windshield or rear window out with your feet or shoulder.
- Rescue the children or passengers who need assistance to help them to escape. If children are in the sinking or submerged car, unbuckle their seatbelts and or child passenger seat, starting with the oldest child first.
- Safeguard the kids. Push the children out of the vehicle ahead of you.
- Always keep a window-breaking tool in your vehicle in an easily accessible location, safety experts suggest.
- Remove heavy clothing before attempting to swim to safety.
- Swim to the surface as safely and quickly as possible (swim in the direction of the current if you’re in deep water).
- Push off for quick rise to the surface.
- If you can’t swim try to float. Use your body’s natural buoyancy to float. Make sure to raise your head to breathe.
- Call for medical attention as quickly as possible.
Ironically, just last week crews from the Federal Highway Administration reportedly began an “extensive inspection of the deck of the iconic 80-year-old Arlington Memorial Bridge, a process that is expected to continue through March 5. In September the 2,163 feet long bridge underwent a two month long renovation, costing $788,375, to repair and replace its entire driving surface.
Photos courtesy Mark P.
Park Police Seeking Hit and Run Info — The U.S. Park Police is asking for the public’s help with providing information about an early morning hit and run on Monday. Around 5:45 a.m. on December 31, a driver was involved in an accident with a motorcyclist while traveling on the Memorial Bridge. The motorcyclist is being treated for a serious leg injury and other non-life threatening injuries. Police need help finding the other driver involved. The person was said to be in a brown minivan, which may have damage along the front driver’s side. Call the U.S. Park Police tip line at 202-610-8737 or U.S. Park Police Dispatch at 202-610-7500 with any info.
Avant Bard Needs New Theater — WSC Avant Bard has spent the past two years as the resident theater company at Artisphere, but now the performance group is looking for a new home. Avant Bard has not been operating under an official lease at Artisphere, and received the news last month that it needs to find a new space before its play season begins in May. The county now wants to use the stages at Artisphere for shorter running productions. [Washington Post]
APS Holding Meetings about New Williamsburg School — Public meetings begin next week regarding the new elementary school that will be built on the Williamsburg Middle School site. There will be a work session next Wednesday, January 9, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in the Williamsburg auditorium. On January 14, the public will get a chance to look at the concept designs from 6:00-8:00 p.m., and on January 17, the School Board and County Board will engage in a work session about the plan following a project presentation. Residents are welcome to attend all meetings. [Arlington Public Schools]
The incident happened around 11:00 a.m. According to U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Brooks, an officer approached a cab that was waiting for a fare on Memorial Drive, near the cemetery, and asked to see the driver’s hack (taxi) license. The driver refused, became disorderly and exited his vehicle without being asked to do so, Brooks said. There was some sort of confrontation and the officer used a Taser to subdue the driver.
Medics from Arlington County responded to the scene to evaluate the driver, per standard procedure following a Taser deployment. The driver was arrested, but Brooks was unable to say what he was charged with.
No word yet on whether the taxi was from D.C., Arlington or another jurisdiction cab.
The first of several planned safety improvements along the GW Parkway will be made today (Friday).
This morning, the National Park Service is expected to starting installing the first of 46 signs (including 9 pedestrian warning signs and numerous trail and route guidance signs) that will be placed near five crosswalks around Memorial Circle. The signs, along with planned directional pavement markings, rumble strips and a trail crossing relocation, are all steps being taken in response to numerous accidents between cars, pedestrians and bicyclists near Memorial Circle.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, officials said the changes, though simple and relatively inexpensive, will help improve the safety of all parkway users.
“We believe these improvements will increase the awareness of the dangers of crossing a very busy parkway for all travelers, whether it be on foot, bicycle or motor vehicle,” said Capt. Scott Fear of the U.S. Park Police. “Our officers have handled many, many crashes related to this area, and we continue to look for ways to improve the safety of the park’s visitors and travelers. The steps being taken should held decrease the crashes and educate the public of the surroundings and challenges they may face as they visit the park.”
“We’re going to see a major reduction in accidents,” promised Rep. Jim Moran, at the press conference. “This is going to affect thousands of people on a daily basis. It’s the right thing to do, it doesn’t interfere with anyone, and it makes everyone feel more safe and secure.”
The changes are all expected to be complete by the end of October. The Park Service, meanwhile, says it will explore more dramatic, long-term changes that could be made to improve safety, including creating a traffic island in the middle of the northbound lanes of the GW Parkway.
Fear said Park Police are considering stepping up speed enforcement along the parkway, but no final decision has been reached yet.
See the full National Park Service press release, after the jump.
According to U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Brooks, the cyclist was conscious and breathing after being struck by the vehicle, and was transported to a local hospital via ambulance. No charges have been filed against the driver, Brooks said.
According to Brooks, cyclists and pedestrians are “required to stop and make sure the roadway is clear before crossing” the section of parkway where today’s accident occurred.
“It’s a confusing area and unfortunately we have a lot of accidents involving bicyclists and motorists and joggers,” he said.
Update at 12:20 p.m. — The ‘all clear’ has been given, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl.
Blue Line trains are bypassing the Arlington Cemetery Metro station due to a suspicious package outside the station.
U.S. Park Police, Metro Transit Police and the Arlington County Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating the package, which was reported at some point before 11:00 a.m.
Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said via Twitter that shuttle bus service is operating from Arlington Cemetery station to the Rosslyn Metro station.
Sergeant Michael Boehm, a 19-year Park Police veteran, suffered an apparent heart attack and collapsed while responding to man found critically injured under the Key Bridge in D.C. on Dec. 16. Boehm, an Army veteran, was rushed to a local hospital but was later pronounced dead. He is survived by a wife and a son.
According to USPP, Boehm’s funeral procession will depart from a Burke, Va. funeral home at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 28. It will head into the District, pass by Park Police headquarters near Hains Point, then head back to a cemetery in Fairfax.
A number of rolling road closures will accompany the funeral procession in Arlington. Closures are expected on I-395, Washington Boulevard/Route 27, and the Memorial Bridge.
“Partnering law enforcement agencies and departments of transportation will assist with the road closures. All roads will be reopened as soon as possible,” USPP said in a media advisory. “The U.S. Park Police anticipates that the procession will take about 1.5 hours. The beginning time is approximate.”
Gunfire was heard around 9:30 Friday night on the 1600 block of Constitution Avenue NW, near the White House. According to news reports, a driver was later seen abandoning a car and fleeing across the Memorial Bridge into Arlington. An AK-47 rifle was recovered, according to the Secret Service.
The Highland Park/Overlee Knolls listserv is now abuzz with word that Oscar Ortega, who is wanted by U.S. Park Police for carrying a dangerous weapon in connection with the incident, may have been staying in their neighborhood.
According to an email sent to the listserv on Sunday: “I thought you all might like to know that the police informed my husband and one of our neighbors that they suspect that someone they are seeking in connection with a shooting incident near the White House was squatting in the house on the corner of N. 22nd and Madison that is currently empty and awaiting demolition.”
Spokespersons for Arlington County Police and U.S. Park Police said they were unaware of any investigation in the area. But two residents who spoke to ARLnow.com confirmed that there were at least four police cars parked near the house on Sunday morning.
Oscar Ramiro Ortega is described by police as a 21-year-old Hispanic male with brown eyes, black hair and a medium build. He’s 5’11″ and 160 lbs, with tatoos on his right hand, upper back, chest and on the left side of his neck. Police say Ortega has ties to the state of Idaho.
Anyone with additional information is asked to call U.S. Park Police at 202-610-7500 or 202-610-8737.
Photo courtesy U.S. Park Police
A Jeep skidded off the eastbound Spout Run Parkway this morning, careening down a small ravine and into Spout Run itself.
The driver of the Jeep was taken to the hospital with what were reported to be minor injuries. U.S. Park Police are on the scene while tow trucks attempt to get the vehicle out of the creek. One lane of eastbound Spout Run is blocked as a result.
Beatty Stevens is considered a “critical missing person” due to “several serious medical conditions including [a] non-dangerous mental disease and a respiratory condition.” He does not have his medication with him.
“Mr. Stevens is a 48 year old white male 6’1” tall weighing about 220 pounds,” police said. “He has facial hair. He was last seen wearing a light blue shirt and blue jeans.”
Anyone who has information about Mr. Stevens’ whereabouts is asked to call U.S. Park Police at 202-610-7500.
Police were investigating a possible attempted sexual assault just before midnight when a man took off running. After police lost track of him, the helicopter and a K-9 unit were called in to help search a neighborhood just west of Ballston Common Mall.
Around 12:50 a.m., police located the suspect, who took off running again. Officers were able to catch up with him and take him into custody outside the church at N. Carlin Springs Road and N. Thomas Street.
Photo courtesy @navidsm
The Hartford Courant reports that the buses, which took 250 eighth-graders from Connecticut to D.C. for a school trip, were operating without insurance or registration. One of the buses had a pair of bald tires, according to the paper.
The buses were impounded in the cemetery’s parking lot by U.S. Park Police and Arlington County police. School officials were eventually able to find other buses to pick the stranded students up from the cemetery.