The man who killed a 24-year-old Alexandria resident last January in a drunk-driving collision in Rosslyn was sentenced to 12 years in prison this morning.
Aman Singh Lail was sentenced to 20 years, with nine suspended, for aggravated involuntary manslaughter, plus 12 months for driving under the influence. Lail pleaded guilty to the charges last summer.
The sentence was the maximum allowed upon the plea agreement, and Arlington Circuit Court Judge Louise DiMatteo apologized to the family of the victim, Chowdhury Saqlain, saying no sentence could replace the son they lost.
“I don’t even know what to say to the family seated over here,” she said from the dais. “It’s completely unfair what’s happened to you. It’s wrong.”
Lail had previously been arrested twice and convicted once of DUI in Virginia. He had also been charged with multiple reckless driving and speeding charges, totaling more than 30 citations and arrests.
On Jan. 24, 2014, Lail was driving on Lee Highway at between 53 and 64 mph — the Commonwealth’s Attorney and Lail’s attorneys dispute the speed and blood-alcohol content of the case — when his Jeep Wrangler slammed into Saqlain’s sedan at the intersection of Ft. Myer Drive. Lail could not complete a field sobriety test and initially lied to detectives, telling them a friend “Moe” had been driving his SUV.
“He drove like a maniac, was outrageously drunk and displayed callousness after the fact,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jay Burkholder said during the hearing. Witnesses said he drank between four and five vodka and orange juice drinks and two tequila shots at a hookah bar in Fairfax County. “Because of perverted fate, the defendant is alive and [Saqlain] is dead.”
Lail’s mother testified that her son had been an alcoholic and told her the evening after the crash he didn’t remember what happened. In the 15 months since the crash, Lail’s attorney claimed he had grown up, and asked for leniency in the sentencing.
“He has changed a lot, he understands and he knows he took someone’s life,” Lail’s mother said. “He is a very nice boy, he is very good-hearted.”
After the hearing, Saqlain’s family and their attorney, David Haynes of The Cochran Firm, held a press conference outside the courthouse and announced they would be pursuing a civil suit against Lail, asking for $20 million in damages.
Haynes said the family hopes Saqlain’s legacy is fewer drunk-driving deaths. They are also calling on state legislators to make bars and restaurants liable in drunk-driving accidents that occurred after over-serving their patrons.
“Without this law on the books, we are unable to hold these establishments responsible,” Haynes said.
During the sentencing hearing, Saqlain’s stepfather read testimony written by his wife — the victim’s mother — who was quietly sobbing in the front row.
“There will be no more birthdays, he will always be 24,” he read. “My heart aches knowing he had no warning, no ability to prepare. He couldn’t say goodbye.”
The man who died on Friday night in a three-vehicle crash on N. Glebe Road has been identified as Todd Bohnert, 48, of York, Pa.
The crash happened at 8:43 p.m., in front of Marymount University.
Bohnert was driving a pickup truck that slammed into the back of a Jaguar at the intersection of Glebe Road and Old Dominion Drive, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
“A high rate of speed was involved in the crash,” Sternbeck said today. It is not yet known if drugs or alcohol were a factor — the medical examiner has not released a toxicology report.
Glebe Road was closed down into the early morning hours on Saturday, Sternbeck said, as ACPD investigated the scene. Bohnert was ejected from his truck upon impact, and he was pronounced dead on the scene.
Photo courtesy @ArlingtonVaPD
(Updated at 11:10 p.m.) One person is dead following a three-car accident on N. Glebe Road near Marymount University tonight.
Arlington 911 dispatchers received a call for a serious crash at the intersection of Glebe and Old Dominion Drive around 8:30 p.m. Friday. Paramedics arriving at the accident scene found one victim lying in the middle of the road, suffering traumatic injuries.
That person was pronounced dead on the scene, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.
Initial reports suggest that a pickup truck headed northbound rear-ended a Jaguar at the intersection, and that the pickup truck driver was ejected from the vehicle. The driver of the pickup was found dead, but the driver of the Jaguar suffered only minor injuries and did not require transport to the hospital, we’re told.
It’s believed that there were no other occupants of either vehicle, Malcolm said. A third vehicle, in the southbound lanes, was reportedly struck by the Jaguar after it was rear-ended. No one in the third vehicle required hospitalization, according to Malcolm.
Arlington detectives and the county’s critical accident team are currently investigating the crash. All lanes of Glebe Road are closed at the scene, and are expected to remain closed for several hours. Westbound Old Dominion Drive is closed, and eastbound traffic is being diverted onto southbound Glebe.
The victim is a man in his late 40s, Malcolm said. Early in the investigation, his body was still lying on the roadway, covered with a sheet.
Photo courtesy @ArlingtonVaPD
(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) A 26-year-old Arlington woman was killed in Northeast D.C. early Sunday morning, when the driver of a car in which she was a passenger slammed into a parked tractor trailer.
Nancy Tinoza, an immigrant from Zimbabwe, was killed in the collision at about 3:12 a.m. on the 3400 block of Eastern Avenue NE, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. She was pronounced dead after being transported to the Washington Medical Center’s trauma center.
The driver of the car and another passenger were also hospitalized, and after officers interviewed the driver, Momodu Bello, they arrested him and charged him with second-degree murder.
According to the criminal complaint filed in D.C. Superior Court, Bello, a 35-year-old Fort Washington, Md. resident, was intoxicated and speeding on Eastern Avenue, which has a 25 mph speed limit. According to police, Bello said he had two beers and a shot of Hennessy at Club Mango in Bladensburg, Md., before driving, and “thought that the truck was moving.”
Bello was driving a Volkswagen Passat, which “submarined” under the truck during the collision. Tinoza suffered “massive blunt force trauma” to the head and was rendered unconscious.
“[A witness] saw the defendant had dragged [Tinoza] out of the vehicle by her arms and began shaking [her] violently when she did not respond to the defendant’s attempts to speak with her,” the complaint reads. “At one point, the defendant dropped the unconscious decedent, causing her head to strike the asphalt pavement.”
Bello was denied bond at an arraignment hearing yesterday, District of Columbia U.S. Attorney spokesman Bill Miller said in an email. His first preliminary hearing is on Friday.
Tinoza worked as a research assistant with the International Monetary Fund, according to her LinkedIn profile, and graduated from the College of Wooster in 2012 through the U.S. Student Achievers Program (USAP), which places international students in U.S. colleges. The program has set up a fundraising page to support her family in Zimbabwe — as of 1:30 p.m. the page has raised $8,483 of a $20,000 goal.
“We are saddened and devastated by this loss — she will be remembered for her kindness, energy, optimism and brilliance,” the USAP wrote on the fundraising page. “She was a role model to many, and full of promise and potential. She will be greatly missed by her family, friends, and all she has touched.”
Photo via Facebook
A Maryland man died in a single-vehicle crash in Pentagon City Thursday night.
The incident happened around 10:15 p.m. Police say 60-year-old John Dawson, of Clinton, Md., was turning left onto 15th Street S. from S. Eads Street when he struck a pole.
Dawson was transported to George Washington University hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The Arlington County Police Department’s critical accident team responded to the scene. Investigators are still trying to determine if Dawson’s death was caused by the crash or was the result of a medical emergency that occurred just before the crash, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The man who was rescued from this morning’s house fire near Shirlington has died from smoke inhalation, according to the Arlington County Fire Department.
The victim has not yet been identified, pending notification of his family, ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani told ARLnow.com.
The fire, on the 2100 block of S. Randolph Street, began around 4:30 a.m. and drew about 70 firefighters to the scene. It was knocked down within 30 minutes, the fire department said. Damage to the house is estimated at $90,000.
The victim was trapped on the first floor when firefighters found him, Marchegiani said. He was transported to Virginia Hospital Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries. There were smoke alarms in the house, but investigators don’t yet know if they were working.
The fire was the second in two days. Firefighters successfully rescued two people from the roof of a burning house in the Old Glebe neighborhood early Wednesday morning.
This was the first fire fatality of 2015. Four people died in house fires in 2014, Marchegiani said. In 2013, there were no deaths from fires in Arlington.
The fire department is reminding residents that it supplies free smoke detector installations. From a press release:
The Arlington County Fire Department reminds you to:
- Install smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom.
- Test your smoke alarms every month by pressing the “test” button.
- Change the batteries in all alarms twice a year with daylight savings time, unless you alarm is equipped with a 10 year lithium battery.
- Ensure every person in your home understands and practices your home fire escape plantwice a year. Your plan should include two ways out of every room, getting low, closing the door behind, going directly to your predetermined family meeting place, and then calling 9-1-1.
If you do not have a working smoke alarm, the fire department provides free smoke alarm installations for Arlington County residents.
Virginia State Police is investigating a crash that killed a motorcyclist early Sunday morning.
Police were called to Washington Blvd near I-395 at 2:20 a.m. for reports of a single-vehicle crash. When police arrived on the scene they found the victim’s motorcycle, but not the driver. After a search, 27-year-old Joel A. Morales of Woodbridge was found in a nearby wooded area. He died at the scene.
Police believe Morales was driving westbound on Washington Blvd from the I-395 off ramp when he apparently struck a jersey barrier. He was thrown from his motorcycle and landed below the overpass in the wooded area. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
Arlington County police assisted VSP with traffic control and security when the road had to be shut down to investigate the accident scene. VSP continues to investigate the cause of the crash.
The driver who killed an Alexandria man in a drunk driving accident in Rosslyn on Jan. 24 pleaded guilty to DUI aggravated involuntary manslaughter today.
Aman Singh Lail, 24, was traveling eastbound on Lee Highway when his Jeep Wrangler slammed into the car of 24-year-old Saqlain Chowdhury at 2:09 a.m. Chowdhury was transported to George Washington University Hospital, where he died.
The accident happened a block away from where Lail’s friend, Sami Ullah, died after driving 90 mph over Key Bridge 10 months earlier.
Lail pleaded guilty in Arlington Circuit Court this morning, and will face sentencing from Judge Louise DiMatteo on Nov. 14.
Lail, a Baltimore resident, had almost three dozen traffic violations on his record in Loudoun, Fairfax and Arlington counties since 2008, including a driving while intoxicated arrest in Arlington in 2009 and a DWI conviction in Fairfax County in 2012, according to prosecutors. Lail faces between one and 20 years in prison.
“On Jan. 24, 2014, Aman Lail decided to endanger the National Capital Region by driving drunk,” Deputy Police Chief Daniel Murray said in a press release. “This decision cost Saqlain Chowdhury his life. The aggressive investigation and prosecution by the Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Arlington County Police Department’s Critical Accident Team has resulted in today’s plea. While there is nothing that will bring Mr. Chowdhury back to his family, at least Aman Lail will not present a danger to the community as long as he remains behind bars.”
The case was prosecuted by Deputy Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jay Burkholder.
“The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office is pleased that the defendant entered guilty pleas today, but there are no good outcomes here,” Burkholder said. “Our thoughts continue to be with the victim’s family and friends as they struggle with this tragedy.”
Photo courtesy Arlington County Sheriff’s Office
Two wrecks, two friends, two deaths, one block apart. One friend died, and the other is now facing jail time for manslaughter.
Friday morning, police say Aman Singh Lail drove drunk and slammed into another car at the intersection of Fort Myer Drive and eastbound Lee Highway in Rosslyn, killing the 24-year-old driver. Amazingly, ten months prior, his friend Sami Ullah died when, after driving 90 miles per hour across the Key Bridge, he lost control of his 2008 BMW M5 and crashed just before the intersection of Fort Myer Drive and westbound Lee Highway.
The grim coincidence is tied together by a photo Lail posted in May on his Instagram account. “The last time I saw my brother Sami,” he wrote. Also posted on Instagram: a photo of what appears to be the tricked-out Jeep involved in the wreck.
Police have released few details about this morning’s accident, only saying that it occurred just after 2:00 a.m. when Lail’s Jeep Wrangler, which was traveling eastbound on Lee Highway, collided with Saqlain Chowhury’s Chrysler Crossfire at the Fort Myer Drive intersection. So far police are not saying how fast the vehicles were traveling, which had the green light at the intersection and whether Chowhury was wearing a seat belt.
Lail, a 24-year-old Baltimore resident, is now charged with DUI Aggravated Involuntary Manslaughter, a felony punishable by 1 to 20 years in prison. Given Lail’s prior driving record, he might see the upper end of that range.
As pointed out in the comments section of our initial article, Lail has faced nearly three dozen vehicle-related charges since 2008, and that’s just in Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties alone. Among them:
- One for disregarding traffic lights in Fairfax County on Aug. 16, 2009
- One for Driving While Intoxicated in Arlington on Nov. 7, 2009, which was later amended to a charge of reckless driving
- Nine speeding violations, including one for going 97 in a 55 in Fairfax on Jan. 7, 2012
- One DWI conviction in Fairfax County, on Feb. 5, 2012
Lail is being held without bond at the Arlington County Detention Center.
(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) Arlington County police are investigating a fatal accident that occurred overnight at the intersection of Ft. Myer Drive and Lee Highway, near the Key Bridge.
Police say two vehicles, a Jeep and a sedan, were involved in a t-bone collision around 2:00 a.m. The Jeep, traveling eastbound on Lee Highway, struck the sedan and a 24-year-old man in the sedan died, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene and has since been charged with DUI and involuntary manslaughter. From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department is currently investigating a fatal motor vehicle accident which occurred in Rosslyn at the intersection of Lee Highway and Fort Myer Drive at 2:09 AM on January 24, 2014.
A Jeep Wrangler, operated by Aman Singh Lail, 24, of Baltimore, Maryland was travelling eastbound on Lee Highway when it struck a Chrysler Crossfire being operated by Saqlain Chowdhury, 24, of Alexandria, Virginia.
Mr. Chowdhury was transported by paramedics from the Arlington County Fire Department to the George Washington University Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Mr. Lail has been charged with Driving Under the Influence – Aggravated Involuntary Manslaughter. He is being held without bond at the Arlington County Detention Center.
The eastbound lanes of Lee Highway were closed for approximately five hours, opening shortly before 7:00 AM.
Police are asking anyone with information concerning this incident to contact Detective Sara Bertollini of the Arlington County Police Department’s Critical Accident Team at (703) 228-4243.
Screenshot via NBC4
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.