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BREAKING NEWS — Paramedic Falls into Four Mile Run From I-395

by ARLnow.com February 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm 11,846 48 Comments


Update at 7:30 p.m. on 2/9/12 — The victim, paramedic Joshua Weissman, has succumbed to his injuries.

(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) An Alexandria paramedic fell about 30 feet from I-395 into Four Mile Run while responding to a call near Shirlington tonight.

Just before 6:30 p.m. emergency crews were called to I-395 near Shirlington Circle for two separate incidents: a three-vehicle crash in the northbound lanes and a vehicle fire in the HOV lanes, according to Virginia State Police

An Alexandria paramedic responding to the call stopped in the northbound lanes, alongside the HOV lanes, in an effort to reach the burning vehicle. We’re told the paramedic somehow fell through a small gap between the guardrails, between the northbound lanes and the HOV lanes, and landed in the creek. The gap is visible in the photos above.

The medic has been identified by police as 33-year-old Joshua Weissman, a seven year veteran.

Rescuers from Arlington and Alexandria were able to reach Weissman and extricate him from the water. CPR was performed, according to fire radio traffic. He was taken downstream to S. Cleveland Street and then transported via ambulance to Washington Hospital Center with what Thiel described as critical injuries. Authorities initially wanted to airlift the Weissman to the hospital, but were not able to due to the rainy weather, we’re told.

The northbound HOV lanes of I-395 were shut down for an extended period of time during and after the incident. As of 10:30 p.m., three lanes of northbound I-395 remained closed and traffic before the scene was still heavy.

The vehicle fire, meanwhile severely snarled traffic on southbound I-395 during the latter part of the evening rush hour. All HOV lanes were closed for at least a half hour during the fire response.

As of Thursday afternoon, Weissman was still in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Virginia State Police say they’re continuing to investigate the accident.

Photo (above, right) via Google Maps

  • Hillz

    There is a lot more than that going on… northbound is also closed and all sorts of trucks and cop cars heading down the NB side towards Shirlington. Access from Glebe is non existent and blocked. Watching it from our townhouse.

  • Brian

    Correct .. HOV SB lanes now re-opened .. but NB 395 is closed at Shirlington …. not sure what is going on but traffic cams show massive emergency presence. Anyone have any ideas?

  • Brian

    Birds Eye View of this and EMS Radio on. There’s a patient down under the bridge that they are hoisting out for medical. Every EMS and fire truck in the area is here. The scary thing is listening to Arlington Fire on the radio, talking about “serious communication issues” with Alexandria Fire & EMS. They can’t seem to get on the same page here. I hope this person doesn’t die because they didn’t use the same radio channel sooner!

    • Brian

      Dr. Gridlock reports the person who fell is a firefighter. Hope he is ok. What are you using to listen to the comm?

      • Brian

        5-0 Radio App on iphone.

        They got him out and everyone is clearing the scene. What a crazy mess! Seemed like there was no organization, just everyone in two counties flocking to the scene.

        • Brian

          Thanks for the info, Brian. Hope he is ok. -Brian

        • CommonCents

          Yeah a car fire simultaneously occurring with a man down in the creek isnt exactly a routine call– I would expect it to be a little chaotic. I hate to state the obvious, but apparently its needed for the iphone app peanut gallery. Watch a few episodes of Worlds Scariest Police Chases, and all of a sudden I guess youre an expert.

  • Brian
  • nunya

    car b q s at rush hour are always fun.

  • Rick

    I’d shut the road down if someone fell in four mile run too. I hope the medic is okay!

  • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer

    tragic for the fall.
    that area is right on the line.
    but i’d be curious what people on here know about communication issues in the “valley” of Shirlington…
    out of site line and radio line?

    • EPinBC

      Radio coverage is excellent on both Arlington and Alexandria’s systems. Arlington actually has a radio site in Shirlington.

  • Celeste

    Now he’s extracted, why does the highway need to remain closed?

    • Aaron

      Most likely investigation. Stop worrying about traffic and worry if the medic will make it — that’s a bit more important tonight.

      • Aaron

        From PGFD public information office .. exactly my point too “The news tonight is not about a traffic back-up. The news is that a #Alexandria FF/Medic sustained critical injuries while helping others.” So think of the medic Celeste

    • Agree with Celeste


      I cannot write more because ArlNow will delete agreeing comments.

  • charlie

    i’ve been out there. and below there.
    I cannot imagine how someone fell. explosion?

    • Hillz

      Agreed, Charlie. We have been watching this all night from our back deck and cannot fathom how one falls into Four Mile from the point of the “incident”, according to traffic reports. Also, there is still an awful lot of emergency lights and bright construction type lights looking down on SB 395. I can’t imagine any scenario about tonight’s accident is good. Hoping for the best but it seems bizarre.

  • Dezlboy

    Let’s all hope for the best outcome for the medic. These people save our lives..

  • Caroline Belle

    it seems there are accidents at that location on 395 often. i’ve lived here for 8 years and have seen major accidents on that ramp – are they going to do anything about that? i know some of those accidents were fatal. My thoughts and prayers are with the medic and I’m sad to hear that there were radio interoperability issues between fire and ems (Brian, thanks for that info) – that’s not an uncommon, a problem between disciplines, but the national capitol region should not have that problem, they’ve been trained to use shared channels

    • Ohboy

      The issue is that citizens do not call in the right location of incidents. At that location, Arlington and Alexandria both got called on each departments channel. Sometimes both run the call not knowing the other is. Not saying that happened in this instance but it does happen.

      • Anonymous

        This information is inaccurate. The 911 system in NoVa runs on the concept of automatic mutual aid. Look it up. Even when someone calls in an incorrect location, the responding units may not know exactly where to locate the incident however, each unit responding knows exactly what other units are involved and which locations they’re coming from/going to 95% of the time. Basic fire/ems operations.

        • OhboyEye

          Hmm, listen to the audio, sounds like to separate operations to me.

  • arlcyclist

    I was riding home along the Four Mile Run trail and came upon the scene just as they were bringing the medic up from the creek in a basket. It’s not a huge gap between the roadways but it’s big enough to slip and fall through which I could see happening in the rain and darkness. After hearing from a first responder that an EMS worker fell into the water while responding to an incident on 395 I was really glad to see him being lifted up in the basket. Sorry to hear he was in pretty bad shape and hoping for the best.

  • MC 703

    I watched tonight from my balcony at the Dolley Madison – couldn’t figure out why NB 395 access was blocked at Glebe. Then I saw an ambulance with 2 ACPD cars leading, 1 fire dept Ford Excursion and another vehicle following close behind.

    It was probably the responder who fell in the back of the ambo – they were keeping the path clear for him. Awful. Hope he or she is OK.

    • MC 703

      Also, I still see emergency vehicles on that ramp from Quaker and maybe NB 295 too.

  • Brad

    Whats amazing is a paramedic/fireman is on the brink of death and the number one topic is how the traffic is an inconvenience…thoughts and prayers to your Paramedic Weissman.

    • Arlingtoon

      Amen to that. You know that if the roles were reversed, and any one of us were injured, he’d do everything in his power to help us. Time for a little prayer for his full recovery.

  • any news on Mr Weissman? This is just so sad and I’m worried for him. Please update when you have information to share.

    • Arlingtonian

      Yes, any update on his condition as it’s available would be great … keeping him in my thoughts and hoping for the best.

      • Lee-n-Glebe

        I 3rd the motion for an update, please!

        • Aaron

          Fox DC is reporting tonight that he has died …. terrible story.

    • Arlingtoon

      I just got an e-mail from WTOP indicating that he died from his injuries.

      Requiescat in pace.

      • Aaron

        Confirmed by DCFD .. via Twitter:
        “Prayers are with the #Alexandria FD as they mourn the loss of Paramedic Joshua Weissman from injuries he sustained on I-395. @IAFFLocal2141”

        • drax

          Terrible news. Prayers for his family.

  • 911 411

    The post about the E911 system is completely wrong and it is important to clear up. E911 deals only with identifying the location of the person making the call. It has nothing to do with responding apparatus. The person who wrote that many times in NOVA units operate close to one another without knowledge was correct. It is very common to have a response from Alex and Arl to a call on 395 without the other knowing; same on 66 for Arl/FFX and FFX/PW. This situation is horrible and we should all place our energy into thinking positive thoughts for the family of the injured public safety member and the member himself. The particulars will play out as appropriate. Stop spreading false information. The only time multi-jurisdictional units know what another is doing is when the call is initiated and handled by one communications center using the mutual aide/automatic aide agreements. If County A requests units from County B, those units switch to County A’s radio channels; all responding units regardless of jurisdiction then know who is involved and where communications reside. Best wishes to AFD and the Family.

    • Ohboy


  • news just reported the paramedic has died. My prayers for his family and friends. How very sad. 🙁

    • Michael H.

      Very sad to hear.

  • Courthouse Res

    I am so sad. RIP! Died trying to save others. All those complaining about the traffic should be ashamed of themselves.

    • Michael H.


  • Tabs


  • Arlwhenver

    So sad to have lost this brave young man. My condolences to his family and friends. May he rest peacefully in eternity.

  • Arlingtonian

    This is awful. 🙁 Very sad to hear this news. I’m grateful for our brave first responders like him every day.

  • Ra

    To his family, thank you for his service and so sorry.

  • Duke

    The following was posted by Celeste on February 8th:
    “Now he’s extracted, why does the highway need to remain closed?”
    Dear Celeste,
    Just wanted to say how thoughtful you sounded in your post. In the very near future, traffic in the area will come to a complete halt and cause you to piss and moan. But don’t fret, once Joshua’s funeral procession passes by, it can be about you again…

  • DarkHeart

    God speed. Rats.

  • jeremy

    Very sad to read about the paramedic…

    When I was running in this stretch yesterday (under 395 on Four Mile Run), I was going to come on here to comment about how incredibly low the water was and that I hope he didn’t hit his head, because in both sections of this drop, there are tons of big rocks…

    Very very sad and my condolences to his family and friends…


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