Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Cristol Reacts to Lawmaker’s Arlington Suggestion — After another Republican state Senator suggested, jokingly, that Arlington and Alexandria go back to being part of D.C., Arlington’s state lawmakers and County Board member Katie Cristol were not amused. Cristol tweeted: “Hmmm, is it possible their grievance is that my diverse, progressive constituents are EXACTLY what it means to be a ‘Real Virginian’ in 2020?” [Twitter, Blue Virginia]

More on Planned Pentagon City Study — “County staff have been overwhelmed by a flood of new development applications in the area since Amazon announced its intentions to set up its second headquarters. And the sizes of some of those projects have been so large that staff have begun urging developers to be patient and wait for a revision of the area’s planning documents before pursuing them.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Man Struck, Killed by Driver — “A 29-year-old man from Arlington, Virginia, died early Saturday morning after being hit by a dark-colored SUV on Industrial Road near Backlick Road in Springfield. David Velasquez was walking in the right lane of Industrial Road at about 1 a.m. when he was hit by the driver, who did not stop, Fairfax County police.” [WTOP]

‘We Will Buy Your Tech Business’ Signs — “There are mysterious signs all over Ballston saying ‘We will buy your tech business…’ [A person who returned our call] said they’re just interested in talking to people looking to sell their business and are not interested in being the subject of a news story.” [Twitter]

W-L, Yorktown Face Off on Hard Court — “There was a double feature of nail-biting thrillers the evening of Jan. 30 in a packed and loud Washington-Liberty High School gymnasium. That’s where the Yorktown Patriots and Washington-Liberty Generals met in all-Arlington girls and boys varsity basketball games with close finishes. The Yorktown girls won in overtime, 53-50. Then, in the nightcap, the W-L boys won, 65-63, on a last second-shot in the Liberty District high-school contests.” [InsideNova]

Minor Apartment Fire — Arlington County firefighters responded to a small cooking fire in an apartment near Courthouse on Saturday. No one was hurt and only minor damage was reported, although the apartment did fill with smoke. [Twitter]

Gymboree at Pentagon City Mall — “A popular children’s clothing retailer that closed all of its stores a year ago is taking steps to re-enter the marketplace. Officials with Gymboree this week announced plans to relaunch the brand at more than 200 Children’s Place locations nationwide,” including at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. [Patch]

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(Updated at 8:25 a.m.) The driver of a car with Uber branding is in police custody after an incident at the Advanced Towing lot in Ballston.

Witnesses tell ARLnow that around 3 p.m. a man was trying to prevent the Uber vehicle from leaving the tow lot at 4000 5th Road N. when the driver gunned it, striking the man, another vehicle and a utility pole.

When a reporter arrived on scene, the alleged driver was being taken into custody by police a short distance away from the lot. The striking vehicle — a silver Kia with a cross on the hood — could be seen parked on 5th Road N. with a damaged front bumper and the passenger side of its front windshield shattered.

According to scanner traffic, the victim was bleeding from the face after being struck and was being transported to Virginia Hospital Center via ambulance. His injuries were described as non-life-threatening.

A towing company employee told ARLnow that the victim was Advanced Towing owner John O’Neill.

“All this over 135 bucks,” the employee said.

Police said Monday evening that a Fairfax man had been arrested and is facing multiple charges.

“At approximately 3:11 p.m. on January 13, police were dispatched to the report of a crash with injuries in the 4000 block of 5th Road N.,” said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect attempted to exit a tow lot as the employee was closing the gate. The suspect allegedly accelerated, struck the employee, a dumpster and light pole before fleeing the scene.”

“An officer located the suspect and took him into custody without incident,” Savage continued. “The employee was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Gigssa Bekele Bengessa, 27, of Fairfax, VA was arrested and charged with Malicious Wounding, Destruction of Property and Defrauding a Garage Keeper. He was held on no bond. “

Advanced Towing gained national notoriety in 2015 after video emerged of an ESPN reporter, whose car was towed, berating an Advanced employee. The company, which tows cars that are considered to be trespassing on private lots and then charges the vehicle’s owner a fee, faces frequent accusations of “predatory” towing.

Photos and reporting by Vernon Miles

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Morning Notes

Confusing Lane Markings on I-395 — “Drivers are complaining about mis-matched lane striping on… 395 South near Shirlington.” [NBC 4, Twitter]

New Taco Restaurant Eyeing Arlington — Wild Tacoz, which recently opened in the Falls Church area, is aiming to become a local chain with future locations in Arlington and elsewhere. [Tysons Reporter]

Pedestrian Struck Near Clarendon — “A woman was just struck by a car on N. Pershing Drive at Fillmore Street in Lyon Park. Only minor injuries reported. Police and firefighters on scene.” [Twitter/@ARLnowDOTcom]

Dems Push for Higher Wages at DCA — “Delegates have signed a letter urging the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority to ensure contracted workers at Reagan National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport reach $15 per hour by 2023. Their $12.15 hourly wages are far lower than D.C.’s $15 minimum wage and many East Coast airports.” [Press Release]

Crystal City Hilton Sold — “Starwood Capital Group has made its second acquisition in the area around Amazon HQ2 this year. The Miami-based firm acquired a 393-room hotel in Crystal City from a fund affiliated with JBG Smith for $73M.” [Bisnow, Washington Business Journal]

Housing May Dominate Budget Discussion — “Board members directed, as part of their fiscal 2021 budget guidance to County Manager Mark Schwartz, that budget plans include an option to increase affordable-housing funding to as much as $25 million, a 56-percent increase from the $16 million Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) funding approved for the current fiscal year…. [but] raising expectations of affordable-housing advocates could pit them against proponents of other budget priorities.” [InsideNova]

Local Defense Attorney to Serve as Fairfax Prosecutor — “Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney-elect Steve Descano… announced last Wednesday (Nov. 27) that he intends to have Terry Adams, a private defense attorney in Arlington, take on the role of Chief Deputy, lauding his 14 years working on criminal and civil cases in Virginia.” [Tysons Reporter]

ACFD Assists With School Project — “Tower 104 assisted students [at] Science Focus School today with their annual egg drop. The students were able to collect some data & a good time was had by all.” [Twitter/@ArlingtonVaFD]

Photo courtesy Dave Statter

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Morning Notes

Pedestrian Struck on Columbia Pike — A pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on Columbia Pike near S. Highland Street around noon on Friday. Passersby rushed to help the victim, who remained on the ground after being struck. The crash appeared to happen prior the crosswalk in the westbound lanes of the Pike. The pedestrian reportedly suffered non-life-threatening injuries. [Twitter/@ARLnowDOTcom]

ACPD Ramping Up Seat Belt Enforcement — “During the Thanksgiving holiday, Arlington County Police Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on a high-visibility Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign to work toward reducing the number of fatalities that occur when drivers and passengers fail to buckle up. The campaign runs from November 25 – December 6, 2019.” [Arlington County]

Veteran Suicide Run Ends in Arlington — “Two Massachusetts men finished a 500-mile run from Cape Cod to Arlington National Cemetery on Friday to raise awareness of veteran suicides. Joshua Milich, 29, of Somerset, and Brian Tjersland, 52, of Dartmouth, started off on their journey from Massachusetts National Cemetery on Veterans Day.” [Cape Cod Times, NBC 4]

Hope ‘Doesn’t Know What to Expect’ with Majority — “Like his three colleagues also comprising the Arlington delegation to the House of Delegates, Patrick Hope has never served in the majority. That changes on Jan. 8, when Democrats take control of a body that has been under authority of Republicans for more than two decades – and when, for much of that time, Democrats were as much an afterthought as the groom at a wedding reception.” [InsideNova]

YHS Football Advances to Regional Final — “On Friday night, the Patriots shut the [Madison] Warhawks down, scoring a 25-10 win in the Class 6 Region D semifinals for their second victory of the postseason. The Patriots, who went on the road and never trailed, secured that third playoff game; they will face Westfield, another traditional power, in next week’s region final.” [Washington Post, InsideNova]

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A woman who was struck by a dump truck in Rosslyn a year ago, suffering serious injuries and ultimately a leg amputation, is reflecting on her recovery.

Helen Harris was honored at George Washington University Hospital’s 8th annual Trauma Survivors Day earlier this week. Though now able to walk with a prosthetic, Harris is still “on a long road to recovery,” NBC 4 reported.

“I will carry it for the rest of my life,” Harris told NBC 4. “It’s an ongoing struggle, every day gets a little bit better but it’s full of ups and downs.”

Harris was run over by the dump truck on Lee Highway in Rosslyn last December, after pushing her daughter — who was in a stroller — out of the way of the truck while crossing the street.

The truck’s driver, identified at the time as 63-year-old John Washington of Silver Spring, was charged with reckless driving and failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk after the crash. The reckless driving charge was dropped and in March he was found guilty on the failure to yield charge, paying a $100 fine and avoiding any jail time, according to court records.

Screen shot (bottom) via NBC 4

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Local governments are rolling out their annual “Street Smart” campaign with a warning about a recent uptick in the number of people on foot killed by drivers.

This fall, the annual campaign by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) will highlight a 14% increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities between 2017 and 2018 regionwide, from 77 people killed in 2017 to 88 in 2018.

The regional government organization unveiled a wall featuring crash stories told by victims yesterday (Monday) at 12th Street and Florida Avenue NE in D.C. That’s where cyclist and safety activist Dave Salovesh was killed by a speeding driver earlier this year — spurring citywide protests and as well as calls for change in Arlington. The wall project is expected to tour Maryland and Virginia as well, per a MWCOG spokeswoman.

One of the victims featured in the awareness campaign is Ren Werbin (above), who was struck while crossing Wilson Blvd near the Ballston Quarter mall around 11 p.m. on February 1. The impact broke vertebrae in Werbin’s back and shattered her collar bone, shoulder, and leg.

“I went from having a neck brace, to having a full back brace, to having a full leg brace, and not being able to move my right arm,” said Werbin in an interview filmed for the project “My world completely changed.”

Werbin spent three months in the hospital recovering from her injuries. An Arlington County Police spokeswoman told ARLnow that an investigation found that the driver — described in an MWCOG press release as “a teen driver in a car full of friends” who “blasted through an intersection” — had a green light at the time and was not cited.

Another testimonial is from a Rosslyn resident who was struck in a crosswalk.

“It happened so fast,” she recounted. “I walked like a penguin for months. Finally, I walked like a normal person, but I was scared of the streets. The physical pain passes, but it was traumatic.”

The most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates while driving a car has become safer over the years, walking on roads has become more dangerous. And the majority of pedestrian who are killed are hit after dark — a concern that grows later in the year when the hours of daylight wanes in the fall.

Last November saw the highest number of pedestrians hit in the D.C. area (292) out of any other month, per data shared by MWCOG. In Arlington, the month with the highest number of pedestrian collisions (15) was October.

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(Updated at 6:50 p.m.) A woman was struck by a vehicle on N. Glebe Road in Ballston during the Wednesday evening rush hour.

The crash happened around 5 p.m., at the intersection of Glebe and 11th Street N.

Witnesses told ARLnow that the woman was struck by the driver of a pickup truck, who may have run a red light, though that account and other details could not be immediately confirmed.

The woman was conscious and breathing but bleeding from the head, according to scanner traffic. A Fairfax County ambulance crew that happened to be driving by was the first on scene to start rendering aid.

“The pedestrian, an adult female, was transported to an area hospital with injuries that are considered non-life threatening,” said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

Police tell ARLnow that the driver remained on scene and the investigation into the crash is continuing. So far there’s no word of any charges being filed.

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Morning Notes

Pedestrian Struck on Crash-Prone Stretch — “A pedestrian was struck on Washington Blvd in front of Washington-Liberty HS around 10 a.m. this morning. The victim was transported to a hospital with minor injuries, per scanner traffic. This stretch has seen numerous pedestrians struck by drivers over the past few years.” [Twitter]

Local Leaders from Wa. Coming to Talk Amazon — “How do you prepare for Amazon.com Inc. when the company plans to drastically grow in your city? That’s what city officials from Bellevue, Washington, hope to learn from our own Arlington, as they send an envoy to meet with county leaders Thursday. The communities… each expect to house more than 4,000 Amazon employees by 2022.” [Washington Business Journal]

Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Approaching — “On Saturday, October 26, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 18th opportunity in nine years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. This disposal service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.” [Arlington  County]

Special Burial and Flyover at ANC — “A pilot who died during WWII was finally laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Air Force Major Donn Young’s remains were recovered decades after his B-25 bomber crashed in Papua New Guinea… The burial happened, in part, because of an adventurous entrepreneur.” [WJLA]

Another Wohl, Burkman Press Conference — Conservative provocateurs Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl held yet another press conference outside Burkman’s Rosslyn area townhouse to accuse another Democratic presidential candidate of sexual impropriety. The press conference was disrupted by a bagpiper, a process server and a man in a corn suit. [Twitter]

Congressman: Congress Must ‘Do Something’ About Trump — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted yesterday: “President Trump just said out loud that it’s OK to betray our Kurdish allies and allow the release of 11,000 ISIS fighters because ‘they’re going to be escaping to Europe.’ He’s out of completely out of control and Congress has to do something about it.” [Twitter]

Photo courtesy Catherine Ladd

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Earlier this week, a woman was struck by a van in a hit-and-run while crossing Columbia Pike at the intersection with S. Frederick Street.

The same intersection has been the site of several other crashes, according to data Arlington County Police Department shared with ARLnow. Between November 2016, and September 2019, there were 20 vehicle crashes at the same intersection — three of which involved pedestrians or cyclists.

ABC 7 reported that residents say the intersection is notorious for close calls between pedestrians and motorists, but the county isn’t able to install a traffic signal until nearby construction ends.

Data captured by ACPD between November 2016 and September of this year also show that another nearby Pike intersection at S. Columbia Street and S. Dinwiddie Street has seen even more numerous crashes. The Dinwiddie and Columbus intersection, near the Arlington Mill Community Center, has resulted in 28 crashes since the beginning of 2018, 6 involving pedestrians.

The rate of recorded crashes is similar to the dangerous Rock Spring intersection of Little Falls Road and Old Dominion Drive, where public outcry and ACPD’s reported 27 crashes and 9 pedestrians injured in the last two years has led county officials to ban left turns during rush hour.

Officials have expressed concerns about safe passage for cyclists and pedestrians in the area for 15 years. The Pike and S. Dinwiddie intersection was also the subject of a special ACPD pedestrian traffic enforcement campaign in 2015.

The intersection of Frederick Street and the Pike is marked with a striped crosswalk and flashing lights to alert motorists of crossing pedestrians, the latter of which was an addition made in recent years.

ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow that the police department changed its system used for keeping track of incidents like these in November 2016. Since then there were 64 total crashes on the Pike between S. Dinwiddie Street and S. Greenbrier Street. All told, 10 of those crashes involved pedestrians or cyclists.

Data via ACPD

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(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) All lanes of Columbia Pike were blocked Monday afternoon after a pedestrian was struck and injured in a reported hit and run crash.

Initial reports suggest a woman was struck by the driver of a van while crossing the street near the Sunoco station on the western end of the Pike in Arlington. The van fled the scene after the crash, according to scanner traffic.

The woman was said to have been conscious but lying in the roadway and bleeding from the head when police arrived. Her injuries were initially thought to be potentially life-threatening, but were later determined to be minor and non-life-threatening, according to police.

The victim was rushed via ambulance to a local trauma center.

Columbia Pike is completely blocked between S. Greenbrier Street and the Arlington Mill Community Center. The road expected to remain at least partially blocked for an extended period of time while detectives investigate the crash.

Police are now seeking a white work van last seen heading north on S. Greenbrier Street.

The crash happened shortly before 2:40 p.m., at a crosswalk with high-visibility crossing lights.

As of 3 p.m., bloodied clothing could be seen balled up on the asphalt as police cars blocked off the scene. Later, detectives could be seen walking the roadway.

As of 4:05 p.m., all lanes of the Pike had reopened to traffic, according to Arlington Alert.

Vernon Miles contributed to this report

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A 55-year-old Arlington woman has died after being struck by a driver in the Williamsburg neighborhood last week.

The woman succumbed to her injuries yesterday, police said. The investigation into the pedestrian crash near Nottingham Elementary School is continuing but so far the driver of the striking vehicle has not been charged.

More from Arlington County Police:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Critical Accident Team (CAT) continues to investigate a now fatal pedestrian crash that occurred on Wednesday, September 4, at the intersection of Little Falls Road and North Ohio Street.

At approximately 8:17 p.m., police responded to the area for the report of crash with injury involving a pedestrian. Officers and medics arrived on scene and located the female victim suffering from serious injuries and immediately began to render aid.

The pedestrian, a 55 year old female of Arlington, Va., was transported to an area hospital in critical condition. She later succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased on September 10.

The preliminary investigation indicates that the victim was crossing Little Falls Road in the crosswalk, when she was hit by the oncoming vehicle, which was travelling westbound on Little Falls Road. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. The investigation into this crash remains ongoing and no charges have been sought at this time.

Anyone who may have witnessed this crash or has additional information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Detective B. Ames at [email protected] or 703-228-7303. Information may also be reported anonymously to Arlington County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS.

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