Crash on Memorial Circle Following Car Chase

by ARLnow.com April 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm 5,831 38 Comments

(Updated at 12:15 a.m.) An SUV crashed and rolled over several times while trying to navigate around Memorial Circle during a car chase this afternoon.

The car chase started in Tysons Corner, when Fairfax County began pursuing a vehicle after a reported grand larceny, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The chase took pursuing officers onto the George Washington Parkway, into the District and into Arlington National Cemetery, before ending in the wreck on Memorial Circle, according to television news reports.

A large contingent of Arlington fire trucks and medic units were dispatched to the scene of the crash, to treat six people injured in the SUV. A photo posted to Twitter depicts the SUV with severe front-end damage on a grassy area just off the circle.

Among the law enforcement agencies that played a role in the chase were Fairfax County Police, U.S. Park Police and Virginia State Police. Arlington County Police were not involved in the chase and only played a traffic control role following the accident.

Around 4:30 p.m., Metro reported that as a result of the accident, 7Y buses toward Federal Triangle were experiencing delays of 20-25 minutes due traffic on the Memorial Bridge.

Photo courtesy @CAPT258

  • D. Murphy

    A big car wreck on Memorial Circle — just over the Memorial Bridge from D.C.

    This is in DC. Why isn’t the DC Police Department directing traffic?

    • nom de guerre

      Because Memorial Circle is in Arlington, Virginia-“A big car wreck on Memorial Circle — just over the Memorial Bridge FROM D.C.

      • JP

        Memorial Circle is on Columbia Island, which is in D.C.

        • When a big incident is right on the border like that it’s quite common for multiple jurisdictions to support one another’s efforts.

          • Barcrofter

            It’s in ARLINGTON! It is on the GW National Parkway but the physical address is ARLINGTON! Columbia Island Marina which is owned by the National Park Service and is off the GW Parkway in between the Pentagon and the Potomac River is located on Columbia Island has an ARLINGTON ADDRESS! Welcome to Arlington everyone. Enjoy your time here!

        • Arlingtonian

          Correct. Memorial Circle is within Columbia Island, which is between Boundary Channel and the Potomac River. Boundary Channel has that name because its southwest shore is the boundary between D.C. and Virginia. Columbia Island is, as expected, within the District of Columbia.

          No Potomac River islands are within Virginia. Not Columbia Island. Not Theodore Roosevelt Island. The entire river is within D.C. or Maryland.

          That is because the the English King Charles I granted the entire width of the River to the third Lord Baltimore, who established the colony of Maryland before the Crown had any granted any large properties in Northern Virginia to anyone. As a result, the Virginia shoreline of the River is the boundary between Virginia and D.C. or Maryland.

      • drax

        But it’s actually still in DC, headline notwithstanding.

    • Bemused bystander

      Maybe because they got stuck in traffic trying to get across the bridge?

  • TGEoA

    I thought Fairfax had a no pursuit policy?

  • retdetvet

    It’s Park police jurisdiction.

    • Nick

      And the chase originated in Fairfax county, so their police were handling the chase and would have just needed help with the accident and traffic issues. And yes, that would normally be Park Police’s job at that location. And some of the highways (Wash Blvd – SR 27, etc) that come together at that location are probably partially the responsibility of the State troopers.

  • bob

    First, that *is* DC, as it is on Columbia Island. I would gladly bet you my mortgage payment that upwards of 95% of area residents of all jurisdictions think that it is all VA, having no clue that it is an island and thus DC (and yes, the Columbia Island Marina is thus also in DC)(and yes, I would also bet 95% of the DC police force has no idea (or care) that Columbia Island is part of the District!)….

    As for the Memorial Bridge circle area in question, the VA line is at the nice stone bridge between the circle and the cemetery entrance road (specifically, at the western edge (high water mark) of the small bit of Potomac water that runs beneath the bridge, delineating the western side of Columbia Island).. Geopolitical facts can be so tiresome(!)…

    As for police assistance, both Virginia State Police and US Park Police are generally in very short supply in the Arlington area….

    • drax

      This has come up several times on ArlNow.

      • CW

        Someone just needs a JPEG map with a big red line for the border drawn on it that ARLnow can permalink to.

    • Harry

      It’s true, I guess I knew that Columbia Is. was part of DC, but it never occurred to me that I was passing through the District riding on the GW Parkway or the Mt. Vernon Trail. You never see any border signs.

      • guns

        yeah, i’ve transported my guns(ar-15, shotgun, glock) several times using the GW parkway, believing i was still in VA, thank god i didn’t get pulled over. Won’t be doing that ever again.

        • JB


        • JR

          I used to have this issue heading from Crystal City area out GW parkway.

          Not sure where you’re coming from, but if you want to avoid DC, 110 will do it going northbound (to the Key Bridge exit, then a right and a quick left onto the parkway).

          Heading southbound, you can go as far south as the ramp to Washington Blvd/395 south (toward Arlington Ridge Rd).

          Note that you CAN’T take Wash Blvd north to GW Pkwy north – that takes you onto Columbia Island. But Pkwy south to Wash Blvd south keeps you off the island.

          • JR

            I guess I should note you can also take the parkway south to the bridge/cemetery exit, turn left toward the cemetery, then take the 110 south ramp. I lived closer to the ridge when I was in that hood, so coming home that was my preference.

            But again, the revers – 110 north to the cemetery exit, then over to the parkway northbound, will take you into DC.

          • R. Gunsauley

            I got around this issue by just stopping at an overpass near 66 and burying my guns. Of course, they were discovered by a utility crew, but if not for that it would have been a decent plan.

    • Arlington, Northside

      Columbia Island Marina has a Virginia address and Arlington zip code, but a 202 area code. So the Phone Company says it is DC, but the Federal Government in the guise of the USPS say it is Virgina.

      • drax

        It’s website says Alexandria in another spot.

        The zip code probably just means it gets mail from Virginia, which makes sense.

    • Barcrofter

      Bob…thanks for your long winded uneducated opinion on a matter of which you know nothing.

      It’s VA. The WATER is DC. I’ll be sure to come to your Wikipedia page the next time I want uniformed/inaccurate info.

      • CourthouseChris

        Ad-hominem attacks plus unfounded no-citation assertions. Yup, that’s the way to win arguments ladies and gentlemen.

      • Arlingtonian

        Barcrofter: You are wrong. All islands in the Potomac River are in D.C. or Maryland. None are in Virginia. That includes Columbia Island and Theodore Roosevelt Island. See my message above.

        If you don’t believe this, look at the state boundary near Columbia Island on Google maps ( http://maps.google.com/maps?q=columbia%20island%20marina&hl=en&gbv=2&safe=active&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl ).

      • Arlingtonian

        Barcrofter: Come to the page in Wikipedia entitled: Columbia Island (District of Columbia).

      • bob

        You are 101% wrong, but I don’t take your attack personally. You are just as misinformed by the internet as so many others are. I don’t reveal personal information on here as my employer prohibits it. All I can suggest is, on this mundane topic, you trust me, as I am a resident expert on the matter. Columbia Island is, always has been (since the royal charter mentioned above, followed by the granting of what is now DC from the state of Maryland when the District was established), and likely always will be, the District. No amount of hoping on any Virginians part will change that. If you don’t trust my anonymity, please feel free to call the National Park Service (GWMP) to confirm at (703) 289-2500 or the US Park Police (GWMP) at (703) 285-1000.

        • Mappy McMapperson

          Dear bob – you could have just said, “I don’t reveal personal information on here as it’s the internet, and nobody else does either.” As my good friend the CIA agent always tells me, don’t imply that your connections are such a big deal.

  • Larry

    wow… hope the adults involved spend several years in prison — 5 year old in the car with them?

    real classy.

  • G Clifford Prout

    Shoplift in your own neighborhood boo.

  • CrystalMikey

    Did they they grab the whole store or something?

  • WeiQiang

    Sounds like they got stuck in Memorial Circle.

    “Look kids! Big Ben … Parliament.”

  • Joe

    It’s not a great thing to have to rely on the Park Police for help. I remember some years ago that there was a lineup of police motorcycles regularly parked on the sidewalk outside the Corner Bakery location on 19th and L Streets NW each morning about 8:00 AM. It was ludicrous during rush hour to walk by and see 4 or 5 motorcycles all parked on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop. I heard a couple of “Krispy Kreme’s up the street” wisecracks over those months.

    Turns out they were Park Police, ostensibly off-duty and not so responsible for traffic enforcement except over specific routes like those mentioned above. Nevertheless, the optics were terrible. I heard someone saying they were going to call Fox-5 News to tell them about this–within a week the motorcycles were gone for good.

    • JB

      What would the world be without anecdotes? Of course the Park Police get no love for the good things they do on a regular basis – just negativity based on years old memories from some schlub that probably has no idea what they’re talking about. I have no problem with cops taking a break if they;’re off duty – there are many people with far less stressful jobs that would cry and whine and raise holy hell if their own boss tried to take away their breaks.

    • WeiQiang

      Those are likely the guys who turn Rock Creek Pkwy from two-way twice per day. They turn it one-way inbound at 6:45 and revert it to two-way at 9:30. Always motorcycle cops. Perfect time for a coffee break while the mayhem ensues on the Pkwy.

  • South Awwwlington

    Regardless of where the accident took place, why should any locality waste resources treating the creeps that just robbed someone. Let em rot.

    • WeiQiang

      … alleged creeps …

      • South Awwwlington

        lol alleged creeps don’t run 15.4 miles from the po-po and roll their car…


Subscribe to our mailing list