EXCLUSIVE — Murray Campaign Bus Investigated for Alleged Hit and Run

by ARLnow.com October 27, 2010 at 12:22 pm 5,344 41 Comments

(Updated at 1:20 p.m.) The back of Republican congressional candidate Patrick Murray’s campaign bus swiped a Jeep in Old Town Alexandria last night and drove off without leaving a note, a witness and the Jeep’s owner tell ARLnow.com.

The Murray campaign says the driver left a note. Alexandria Police say they’re investigating the accident as a hit and run, but also say that someone on the bus left a note.

The alleged incident happened while the bus was trying to turn from King Street onto Union Street around 7:00 last night, witness Jennifer Watkins said in a phone interview this morning. Watkins said the back of the bus loudly scraped against the side of the Jeep, briefly lifting it in the air.

Watkins estimated that about 30 people were within earshot of the accident. The bus was adorned with campaign signs, she said, and a Murray for Congress SUV preceded the bus down King Street with a megaphone blaring.

Watkins said the SUV later doubled back to inspect the damage, but left without anyone getting out of the vehicle. Afterward, Watkins and another witness left notes on the car to tell the owner what happened.

“To blatantly drive away with all these witnesses watching… we were in disbelief,” Watkins said. “We tried to give the benefit of the doubt that maybe they didn’t know that they did that, but when the guy came back around we were like… this is ridiculous.”

The Jeep’s owner, Barbara Reeder, says the campaign has not contacted her yet. She’s hoping to get the bus’s insurance information so she can get her car repaired.

“This is not a political issue,” Reeder said. “The only thing that concerns me is that it was a hit and run… I just want to make sure my car gets fixed.”

The incident is being investigated as a property damage hit and run, says Alexandria Police spokesperson Ashley Hildebrandt. She said that someone on the bus left a note. She was unable to say whether a traffic citation was or will be issued to the bus driver.

“We’ll handle it the same way” as any other accident involving a bus, Hildebrandt said.

In response to an ARLnow.com inquiry, a Murray campaign spokesperson disputes witness accounts that the bus driver did not leave a note on the Jeep. The campaign issued the following statement:

Tuesday night there may have been contact between the campaign bus we have contracted and a vehicle in Old Town Alexandria.

My preliminary information is the bus driver stopped, looked for damage and in the dark, apparently found none. Nonetheless, he left a message on the windshield of the impacted car.

Very late last night I was contacted by the Alexandria police investigating the incident. As the campaign was not the leasing agent, I had no information and informed the police we would inform the driver today that the police would like to talk to him today. We expect the situation will be fully resolved today.

There were no injuries and no hit and run. The bus is fully insured and any damages will be covered by the bus owner.

With just six days to go until the election, the accident is an unwelcome distraction for the Murray campaign. Murray was just beginning to enjoy some media traction thanks to controversial comments made by his Democratic opponent, Rep. Jim Moran.

  • PurpleFlipFlops

    This should be fun…

  • Mark Kinzler

    Nameless Arlington Now Author: It’s not a hit and run when both campaign vehicles stop, speak with police officers and exchange contact information. Again, get your facts straight. Your journalistic integrity is waning.

    • stevis

      That’s not what the witness in the report here says, and it’s not what the Alexandria Police say, apparently. Presumably they would know if they’d been talked to. Get your reading comprehension straight.

    • My name is Scott Brodbeck, and I’m the editor of ARLnow.com. Ask anyone who’s ever emailed me, I’m not nameless or anonymous. The decision to leave my name off articles and the about page is a conscious one done to emphasize the content rather than the author.

      I stand by the reporting here, which is based on first-hand witness accounts.

      • MM

        Seems to be a common theme that when people don’t like the content of an article they attack the credibility of the site.

        • Frenchy B


        • PikeHoo


        • jan


        • Tess


        • Arlingtonian


      • TGEoA

        Scotty doesn’t know…. oh that’t the other Scotty.

    • el fat kid

      nicely done Mark, you play as loose and fast with accusations as you are with facts.

    • Tess

      You obviously don’t come here enough to know what you’re talking about, because you’ve got YOUR “facts” all screwed up. Seems like all you do is go to websites to attact authors and claim they don’t have any integrity when they print something you don’t agree with. This isn’t a liberal or a conservative website – it’s an Arlington News site. If you’re so thin-skinned, then please stay away – or go to one of your Republican sites to do your trash talking.

  • Alexandria Resident

    What the heck was a campaign bus doing on King Street in the first place? You can barely fit CARS on King Street when the parking lane is full.

  • SmogForce1

    That bus is so ridiculous. The 8th is about 30 miles long. What a gas-hogging piece of junk.

  • Westover

    This is why the last few yards before the street corner on narrow roads are No Parking Zones! If the voters of the 8th District can ignore Jim Moran threatening little kids for leaning against his Saturn, I would think that they can ignore an opponents’ contract bus driver’s bad driving and Old Town Residents poor parking.

  • Pedro

    The wheels came off the Republican bus a loooong time ago. All that’s left are wingnuts.

  • Texas Wahoo

    Just so that I understand. The jeep owner says no note was left, but that contradicts what the Murray campaign and the police are saying? If the police are saying a note was left, why on earth would the jeep owner keep calling it a hit and run? Is it possible for the police to know about the note and for the jeep owner to not know about it?

    • Yes, it’s confusing. I expect we’ll get more clarity as police complete their investigation.

      • Janine

        Witnesses left a note on the Jeep. Perhaps that is the source of the confusion with the police?

    • charlie

      It is against the law to leave the scene of an accident. Leaving a note does not absolve you of this responsibility. My car was once parked properly and hit by another car. There must have been witnesses because a note was left on my windshield. It had a bum name and a bum phone number. I still have the dent.
      this is why you m ust stay at the scene until police arrive.

      • Westover

        Charlie, you are incorrect. It is a shame that someone left bum info, but there is zero need to call the police in such an instance. While a shame that someone did not take responsibility this is one of the reasons we have auto insurance.

      • charlie
  • Pingback: OH MY GOD! – Red NoVA()

  • Let’s Be Free

    I would love to see more local press coverage of bus accidents, specifically including the bus accidents that killed several (innocent pedestrians by the way) of the 17 people fatally injured by WMATA’s negligence during Chris Zimmerman’s most recent term on the County Board and his conterminous service on Metro’s Board and its safety committee. Now, let’s see, what kind of bus accidents should we be most concerned about?

    • arlcyclist

      Today? Probably the one that happened yesterday.

  • Michael

    “The Murray campaign says the driver left a note. Alexandria Police say they’re investigating the accident as a hit and run, but also say that someone on the bus left a note.”

    I understand from the Alexandria Police that it was not a hit and run and they are not investigating it as such. And I don’t understand how if they left a note it is a hit and run. What else are you supposed to do besides leave a note?

    • Skeptical

      Janine above may have her finger on it. Witnesses left notes because, they state, they saw no one from the bus or SUV leave any. Police mention a note. Until anyone can confirm what notes police saw and where they came from, the eyewitness account answers the description of a hit and run.

      • Texas Wahoo

        But the article states twice that “She said that someone on the bus left a note.” It seems odd that the police would be so confused as to think notes left by pedestrian witnesses were actually left by people on the bus.

        • Janine

          “She” was a spokesperson, not the investigating officer. Since she did not know if a citation was issued or not, it would not surprise me is she were unaware of the source of the note.

          • Texas Wahoo

            Just to be clear, it doesn’t say she didn’t know if a citation was issued. It says that she was “unable to say.” That could mean she was not allowed to make that information public.

            And it seems like she would have said that she was unable to say where the note came from, instead of stating that it was left by someone on the bus. Clearly she was not able admitting that she didn’t know/couldn’t say.

          • Janine

            Your logic and syntax defies comprehension.

          • Texas Wahoo

            Last sentence should read “Clarly she was not ABOVE admitting that she didn’t know/couldn’t say.”

          • Terry Warner

            Since the issuance of citations or not are routinely reported in news accounts, I think we can safely assume that her inability to say was related to a lack of knowledge rather than restriction.

  • Sophia

    If the folks from the Murray Campaign are reading this: I appreciate your workers trying to get your candidate elected and passing out brochure outside Braddock Metro but you’re not doing yourself any favors when you ignore People of Color.

  • Jobo

    “What else are you supposed to do besides leave a note?”

    Ummmm….you call the police and have them come out to witness the scene and make a report. Doesn’t matter if the other person is there – cops can contact them through DMV information and that way what happened is officially documented for insurance purposes and in case it ever goes to court. Unless you just can’t be inconvenienced or it’s not in your best interest to do the right thing.

    • Chris

      In my Driver’s Ed course 15 years ago we were told if you hit a parked car you leave a note on the car’s windshield. If that isn’t true then I’ve learned something new. Confirmation from the Alexandria Police would be nice. Anything new on this, Scott?

      • I’m going to have an update later today.

        • Make that tomorrow. Still waiting for some info from Alexandria PD.

    • Westover

      In what world do you live in that the police make reports on minor property damage? Why tie up an emergency resource to the community like a cop for something so trivial. Leave a note with your contact info, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR INSURANCE INFO FOR THE WORLD TO SEE, take a picture with your cell phone if you can, and be nice if the person ever calls you. If no one was hurt, there is zero reason to call the police, they will not write out a report and they will not come to court for an insurance case.



Subscribe to our mailing list