Drunk driving — the alleged reason why a woman was killed in a hit-and-run last month — is on the rise in Arlington.
The fatal crash in the Arlington Heights neighborhood has county leaders considering greater emphasis on curbing drunk driving. Neighbors, meanwhile, are asking the county to add more traffic calming measures to combat risky driving, particularly near Alice West Fleet Elementary School and Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
On Aug. 1, a driver hit Viviana Oxlaj Pérez while she was walking near the Thomas Jefferson Community Center at 3501 2nd Street S. She was treated at the scene and transported to the hospital, where she died.
The Arlington County Police Department arrested Julio David Villazon at his home on Aug. 2 and charged him with involuntary manslaughter, hit and run, driving under the influence and driving on a revoked license.
There has been an uptick in alcohol-involved crashes in Arlington. Last year, ACPD recorded 143 alcohol-involved crashes, up nearly 49% increase from 96 in 2020, according to its 2021 annual report. In 2022, ACPD has recorded 116 alcohol-involved crashes, says police spokesman Ashley Savage.
Driving under the influence is one of the top contributing factors to a “disproportionate” number of critical and fatal crashes in the county, says Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien. The others are speeding, turning left at an intersection, turning right across bicycle lanes and failing to yield to pedestrians.
Each of these behaviors is being addressed during an ongoing “Critical Crash Mitigation Campaign” through December.
The recent rise in alcohol-related crashes chips away at what had been a broader downward trend in drunk driving. Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol attributed this initial decrease to efforts, such as the ACPD Arlington Restaurant Initiative and the Washington Region Alcohol Program, as well as the growing popularity of ride-sharing services — which have been getting more expensive.
“Now, however, national trends are indicating major increases in alcohol-related traffic fatalities during the pandemic (regional data is lagging but reasonable inference suggests our local trends may be similar),” Cristol said in an email to ARLnow. “This indicates to me that there is a greater role for the County Board in public education about the threat that drunk driving poses to our own community.”
Cristol said the most important message she can communicate about last month’s crash is that “there is no safe way to drive drunk.”
“In this situation, the driver was impaired, and there is no ‘safe’ BAC above zero to get behind the wheel. Any intersection or roadway — irrespective of the physical safety improvements, visibility interventions, or other designs to the built environment — is unsafe when a drunk driver is present,” she said.
The DUI is Villazon’s second driving offense within the last 10 years, according to court records. He was previously found guilty of “improper driving” in the Arlington General District Court. Under state code, the misdemeanor charge of reckless driving can be knocked down to improper driving if either the judge or the prosecutor find that the offense was not serious.
His next court date is in February 2023.
The crash that killed Oxlaj Pérez is being examined by a broad swath of local agencies, including Arlington’s transportation staff, the police and fire departments, Arlington’s Dept. of Human Services, Virginia State Police and the County Manager’s office.
But neighbors say the problem is not hard to understand. They say drivers, particularly during school drop-off and pick-up times, speed down S. Glebe Road and Arlington Blvd (Route 50), run red lights, roll stop signs, make illegal U-turns, block crosswalks and go the wrong way on 1st Road S., a one-way street — and they’re not drunk.
“I understand the tragedy that occurred a few weeks ago involved alcohol and likely wouldn’t have been prevented with traffic changes,” said one neighbor, Kelly Cherry-Leigh Davison. “But we have brought up these safety issues numerous times to everyone we can think of and are getting nowhere. I’m worried every day another tragedy is going to occur and we could be preventing it.”
A woman pushing a child in a stroller was bloodied and brought to the hospital after being struck by a driver in North Arlington this morning.
The crash happened around 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Military Road and Lorcom Lane.
“At approximately 10:25 a.m., police were dispatched to the report of a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian,” Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, it was determined the pedestrian was pushing a stroller at the time of the crash. The pedestrian, an adult female, was transported to an area hospital with injuries considered non-life threatening. The child was not injured.”
The woman could be seen being helped to a waiting ambulance after the crash, her face covered in dried blood. The apparent driver and the striking sedan could be seen nearby. So far there’s no word as to what led to the crash nor whether any charges will be filed.
“The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene,” said Savage. “The investigation is ongoing.”
The intersection, which is controlled by a four-way traffic light, is surrounded by homes and a pair of churches, on the northern edge of the Cherrydale neighborhood.
(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) A woman has died after being struck by a driver who then fled the scene, according to police.
Viviana Oxlaj Pérez was walking near the Thomas Jefferson Community Center around 7:30 p.m. Monday when the driver of a truck struck her and then drove off, a family member told ARLnow.
Police and medics quickly responded and treated the critically injured woman, but she later died at the hospital.
Police closed the intersection of 2nd Street S. and S. Glebe Road, in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, for about two hours to investigate the hit-and-run crash.
Police remain on scene investigating. Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to call police at 703-558-2222.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) August 2, 2022
An online fundraiser was established for Oxlaj Pérez early Tuesday morning by her daughter, Hilary Lopez Oxlaj.
Reached by phone, Lopez Oxlaj said her mother was walking across the street with her bike, on her way to the nearby 7-Eleven store, when the driver blew through a stop sign at the intersection and struck her.
Lopez Oxlaj said her mother, who was 53, had lived near the Arlington Career Center for 17 years and was known as the “lady with the bike” who sells cold drinks and ice cream to soccer players at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center fields.
“She was a mother who worked very hard,” she said. “Everyone knew her as a very kind woman.”
Oxlaj Pérez was a married mother of six and frequent churchgoer, who would often donate food to people who were struggling, her daughter said.
Lopez Oxlaj hopes that her mother’s generosity is returned so the family can afford funeral expenses.
“We are collecting funds to… send my mother’s body to Guatemala,” Lopez Oxlaj wrote on the GoFundMe page. “She was a very hardworking lady fighting every day… Please ask for your help, it will be a great blessing.”
As of 11 a.m. the page had raised nearly $3,000 of its $25,000 goal from a few dozen donors.
Police said Tuesday morning that officers arrested the alleged driver, a 62-year-old Arlington man, after finding the striking vehicle about a mile away from the crash scene. Alcohol is “believed to be a factor in the crash,” according to police. The man is now facing numerous charges.
More from an ACPD press release, below.
Rent Keeps Going Up — “Arlington’s median apartment-rental rate remains highest in the metropolitan area and has fully rebounded from dropoffs during the early part of COVID, according to new data. With a median rental rate of $1,999 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,391 for two bedrooms in May, Arlington’s average rental… is now up just under 13 percent year-over-year.” [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Making Much Multifamily — From a spokesperson, about a new set of national rankings: “Multi-family units authorized in Arlington increased by 1,095.8% — a total addition of 2,838 units — between 2020 and 2021. Out of all midsize cities, Arlington experienced the 5th largest increase in multi-family home construction.” [Construction Coverage]
Group Decries Missing Middle ‘D-Day’ — From WAMU’s Ally Schweitzer: “With Arlington expected to enact zoning reforms allowing denser housing in more nabes, the group [Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future] is ramping up its rhetoric in opposition. The group’s latest blast calls the expected vote day ‘D-Day.’ They’ve said the county is ‘declaring war’ on single-family nabes.” [Twitter]
Parking Removed for Transitway Extension — From the National Landing BID: “Parking lanes along Crystal Drive and 12th Street South will be closed to make way for the Transitway Extension Project beginning Wednesday, June 15, 2022.” [Twitter]
Pedestrian Struck in Bluemont — From Dave Statter last night: “Report of a pedestrian struck at Wilson Blvd & George Mason Dr. Appears to be a bicyclist. There was also bicyclist struck last week a block away. @ArlingtonVaFD & @ArlingtonVaPD handling.” [Twitter]
Amazon Buys HQ2 Phase 2 Site — “Amazon.com Inc. has acquired the roughly 11 vacant acres in Pentagon City that will soon be developed as PenPlace, the massive second phase of HQ2. The $198 million deal with JBG Smith, as expected, follows Arlington County’s late April approval of PenPlace, a nearly 3.3 million-square-foot project slated to include three traditional office buildings, a spiral Helix tower, three retail pavilions, a central park and an underground parking garage.” [Washington Business Journal]
Environmental Finding on HQ2 Site — “Crude oil particles have been found in the soil at Amazon.com Inc.’s PenPlace, the site of the second phase of its second headquarters buildout in Arlington County, per a public notice published Monday in The Washington Post… The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality conducted a risk assessment for the particles, finding that the amount poses ‘no material risk to current or future site occupants,’ according to the notice.” [Washington Business Journal]
It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day with some rain possible. High of 76 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:33 pm. [Weather.gov]
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) A woman suffered potentially life-threatening injuries after a crash in front of the Clarendon Whole Foods on Wednesday.
Initial reports suggest that the woman was walking in the area when the crash occurred on Clarendon Blvd and the force of the collision sent two vehicles careening onto the sidewalk, knocking down a light pole.
Details surrounding what exactly happened were fuzzy at the time. A police spokeswoman said it is too early in the investigation to determine a cause of the crash or a sequence of events.
The woman was rushed to a local hospital via ambulance after the crash. Arlington County police set up a command post as detectives conducted a full investigation.
A lone shoe could be seen on the sidewalk as police cordoned off the area and onlookers watched from behind the wall of the Whole Foods parking lot.
Clarendon Blvd was blocked near the crash for an extended period of time.
On Thursday, the Arlington County Police Department released more information about the crash, which detectives say was caused by a driver who struck a parked car. The victim remains hospitalized in critical condition, police said.
The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a critical crash which occurred on the afternoon of December 22 in the Clarendon neighborhood.
At approximately 1:44 p.m., police were dispatched to the 2700 block of Wilson Boulevard for the report of a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian. The preliminary investigation indicates the driver of the striking vehicle was turning from N. Edgewood Street onto Clarendon Boulevard when he struck a parked vehicle. The impact of the crash resulted in the pedestrian being struck and damage to an additional parked vehicle and a light pole.
The pedestrian, an adult female, was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries and remains hospitalized in critical condition. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene.
The crash remains under investigation and anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective K. Stahl at [email protected] at 703-228-7145. Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Shot Fired in Buckingham — “At approximately 3:04 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of shots heard in the 4200 block of 2nd Road N. Upon arrival, it was determined that the male victim exited an apartment, encountered the two suspects in the hallway and confronted them. A physical altercation ensued, and one suspect produced a firearm. During the struggle, a shot was fired, causing damage to the door of an apartment. The suspects then fled the scene. Responding officers recovered the firearm.” [ACPD]
Driver Strikes Child in Falls Church — “At approximately 4:15 p.m., Falls Church Police and Arlington County Fire and Medical units were dispatched for a report of vehicular crash with injuries involving a pedestrian, approximately 3 to 4 years old. The victim was taken to Fairfax Hospital and is currently listed in critical condition. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. The preliminary investigation is still underway with no additional details at this time.” [City of Falls Church, Twitter]
Fairlington Fire Station’s Future in Flux — “The Arlington government three years ago closed Fire Station #7 over concerns about the structural integrity of its flooring. It has since been determined that it would be too costly to upgrade the facility to resume its original function, but competing planning priorities coupled with the COVID crisis have left the building’s future unclear. A community process to determine the future of Fairlington’s 1940s-era, one-bay fire station has been on hold during the COVID crisis, but may be tackled in early 2022.” [Sun Gazette]
Fire Departments Struggling With Staffing — From public safety watchdog Dave Statter “Alexandria isn’t alone. Area fire department staffing is impacting the number of fire & EMS units available at a time when Covid is surging. There’s also significant impact on EMS availability due to hospital staffing leaving ambulance crews stuck at EDs with patients.” [Twitter]
Local Scholarship Application Now Open — “Arlington Community Foundation (ACF) launched its 2022 scholarship application today, providing Arlington high school students with an opportunity to compete for more than 70 scholarships worth over $525,000 in student aid. A single, common application gives students an easy way to apply for an award from more than 55 individual scholarship funds.” [Press Release]
Marymount Now Requiring Booster Shot — “On Monday, Marymount University administrators shared with its community members an enhanced COVID-19 vaccination policy that will require a booster shot for all students, faculty and staff who will be physically present on campus during the upcoming semester, a precautionary measure designed to ensure the best possible protection against the virus.” [Press Release]
It’s Tuesday — Today will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. Sunrise at 7:23 a.m. and sunset at 4:49 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 48 and wind gusts as high as 24 mph. [Weather.gov]
Unanswered questions remain after a security contractor was killed at the U.S. State Department’s National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington.
The incident happened the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 16, at the 65-acre campus near the intersection of Arlington Blvd (Route 50) and N. George Mason Drive.
Arlington’s 911 dispatch center received multiple calls shortly after 6 p.m. for a pedestrian struck on the P2 lot of the campus. Callers were asked to start CPR on the victim, who was then rushed via ambulance to Virginia Hospital Center in cardiac arrest, according to fire department radio traffic.
The exact circumstances around who struck the victim and with what type of vehicle remain unclear. The dispatches reference a large amount of blood on the scene.
Arlington County police and fire department spokespeople deferred comment to federal authorities.
The State Department confirmed that the victim, a security contractor, died.
“We can confirm the death of a uniformed protection officer (UPO) with the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) on November 16, 2021,” a spokesperson said in a statement, in response to an inquiry from ARLnow. “The officer was assigned to the National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, Virginia. The officer was a contractor whose job duties included domestic facilities protection. The Department of State extends its deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased.”
The State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service arm, which is based in Rosslyn, is leading the investigation.
“We do not comment on ongoing investigations due to privacy and law enforcement sensitivity considerations,” the State Department spokesperson said. “There is no further information we can provide at this time.”
The spokesman did not respond to a question seeking more clarity on what exactly happened.
ARLnow is told that the contractor who was killed was a 22-year-old former high school football player from Waldorf, Maryland. His funeral was held earlier this month.
The National Foreign Affairs Training Center is one of several locations of the Foreign Service Institute, which trains U.S. foreign affairs personnel.
Fire Station 8 Now in Temporary Home — “On December 6th, 2021, The Arlington County Fire Department relocated Fire Station 8 into their new temporary quarters ahead of the construction of a new station. The temporary Fire Station 8 is located at 2217 N. Culpepper St, just behind the location of where the old Fire Station 8 stood for decades. In the coming months, the old Fire Station 8 will be demolished and work will be started on constructing a new Fire Station 8 in the same location that the previous fire house once stood.” [Arlington County]
APS Not Seeking Vax Status for Most Students — “With one major exception – student-athletes – Arlington Public Schools is not, and likely will not be, keeping tabs on the COVID-vaccination status of students. ‘We don’t know the names’ of those who have been vaccinated, Superintendent Francisco Durán told School Board members on Dec. 2. ‘The school will only be asking [parents] if your child is vaccinated if they are in close contact’ with students who test positive for the virus.” [Sun Gazette]
Still No Witnesses to Critical Crash — “At approximately 8:25 p.m., police were dispatched to a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian at S. Four Mile Run Drive and S. George Mason Drive. Upon arrival, officers located the unconscious pedestrian, an adult male, in the roadway. He was transported to an area hospital and remains hospitalized in critical condition. The striking vehicle fled the scene and there is no description of the vehicle or driver. Detectives have not located any witnesses to the crash. Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective D. Gilmore at [email protected] or 703-228-4049.” [APCD]
Another Airport Noise Meeting Scheduled — “Arlington County, along with Montgomery County, Maryland will hold its third community meeting on the joint Airport Noise Mitigation Study for communities north of Reagan National Airport (DCA) on Monday, Dec. 13, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The meeting will include a status update on the overall study, present draft recommendations for departure procedures, and take questions and comments from community members.” [Arlington County]
Sheriff’s Office Food Drive Deemed a Success — “On Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, Sheriff Beth Arthur presented donations to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) CEO Charles Meng. The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office collected 3,731 food items. ‘The Sheriff’s Office is part of the community and I believe it is important for us to support those in need during the holidays. I appreciate staff’s enthusiastic support of these efforts,’ says Sheriff Arthur.” [Arlington County]
It’s Friday — It will be mostly cloudy throughout the day today, with a high of 53 and low of 38. Sunrise at 7:16 a.m. and sunset at 4:46 p.m. Saturday will be warm, with a high of 68 and a low of 52, but rain is likely. Sunday will be clear most of the day, with a high of 59 and a low of 39. [Dark Sky]
Woman Struck, Killed on GW Parkway — “A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle on the George Washington Parkway near the Key Bridge early Saturday morning, according to police. Shortly before 3 a.m., U.S. Park Police responded to a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle in the southbound lanes of the GW Parkway south of the Key Bridge.” [WTOP, Patch]
Beyer Blasts ‘Anti-Vax Shutdown Plot’ — “Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), who represents the largest number of federal employees of any member of the U.S. House, today issued the following statement on Republicans’ publicly stated plan to shut down the government in an attempt to block the Administration’s Covid vaccination measures: ‘Republicans’ plan to shut down the government on purpose to sabotage our pandemic response is extraordinarily cynical and dangerous.'” [Rep. Don Beyer]
Arlington Firefighters Get to the Choppa –– “Recently 2 members from the ACFD had the unique opportunity to participate in a rope rescue course with regional law enforcement partners. Come take a ride with one of our members on their flight over the region, just don’t look down if you are afraid of heights.” [Twitter]
It’s Thursday — Following overnight showers, today will be relatively warm. There will be increasing clouds, with a high near 66. Southwest wind 7 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Sunrise at 7:09 a.m. and sunset at 4:46 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 62. [Weather.gov]
(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) A pedestrian was struck and seriously injured by a driver who then fled the scene last night.
The crash happened near the intersection of S. George Mason Drive and Four Mile Run Drive, just before 8:30 p.m. The road was closed while police investigated.
The W&OD Trail crosses just north of the busy intersection, next to a service road that’s also labeled as S. Four Mile Run Drive.
“At 8:25 p.m. on November 29, police were dispatched to a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian at S. Four Mile Run Dr. and S. George Mason Drive,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, officers located the pedestrian, an adult male, in the roadway. He was transported to an area hospital and remains hospitalized in critical condition.”
“During the preliminary investigation, officers did not locate any witnesses to the crash and there is no description of the striking vehicle,” Savage continued. “The circumstances of the crash remain under investigation. Anyone with information that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact ACPD’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”
At 8:25 p.m., police were dispatched to a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian. The pedestrian was transported to an area hospital with critical injuries. The driver of the striking vehicle did not remain on scene. Expect continued police presence in the area. https://t.co/yaPNMtVHV9
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) November 30, 2021
Photo via Google Maps
A child, reportedly 2 years old, was struck by the driver of a car in the Westover neighborhood Wednesday evening.
The crash happened shortly after 4 p.m. on the 1500 block of N. Longfellow Street, less than a block from The Italian Store and other Westover shops.
Initial reports suggest that the driver of a black Cadillac sedan struck the child while exiting an alley, crossing a sidewalk and turning onto Longfellow Street. The child was reportedly pulled from under the vehicle and was conscious when medics arrived, but suffering from a potentially serious head injury.
An ambulance rushed the injured child to a local hospital.
A kid’s scooter could be seen under the car as a distraught woman talked to first responders. The car’s driver remained on scene.
“[The] preliminary investigation indicates the child was removed from under the vehicle prior to the arrival of public safety personnel,” Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow. “Police remain on scene investigating the crash.”
*Driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. Police continue to investigate the crash. Expect continued police activity in the area.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) November 17, 2021
Update at 12:15 p.m. — Arlington County police just released additional information about the crash, while asking for members of the public to come forward with additional information. The child, who suffered what was initially reported as a serious head injury, is now said to be in critical but stable condition at a local hospital.
From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a critical crash which occurred in the Westover Village neighborhood on the evening of November 17, 2021.
At approximately 4:09 p.m., police and fire were dispatched to the 1500 block of N. Longfellow Street for the report of a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian. Arriving public safety personnel located the pedestrian, a toddler, on the sidewalk next to the striking vehicle. He was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries and is currently listed in critical but stable condition.
The preliminary investigation indicates the pedestrian was riding a scooter when he was struck by a motorist exiting an alley. He was removed from under the vehicle prior to the arrival of public safety personnel. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene.
This crash remains under investigation and details of the investigation will be presented to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for review. Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective D. Johnson at [email protected] or 703-228-4193. Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).