On the one-year anniversary of his wife’s death in a car accident in front of Nottingham Elementary School, Neal Lawson launched a foundation in her honor.
The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation formally launched yesterday with a mission, according to a press release, of providing funding for “access to medical services, counseling and support for economically vulnerable mothers-to-be, newborn babies and postpartum mothers who don’t have the means or resources to start their journey on solid footing.”
Bush-Lawson was killed the morning of Feb. 24, 2014, while loading her daughter, Sadie, into a car seat on N. Little Falls Road. A passing dump truck hit the minivan’s door, which was sheared off the vehicle and into Beth-Lawson. She was pronounced dead at Inova Fairfax Hospital that afternoon.
Bush-Lawson was a 39-year-old mother of three children — two of whom attend Nottingham — and her husband decided to use her memory to put action behind one of her passions: helping other mothers.
“Jennifer was an amazing wife, mother and woman,” Neal Lawson, founder and CEO of the foundation, said in the release. “There is no better way to honor her memory than providing mothers-to-be the opportunity to be the best mother possible and providing newborn babies a healthy start at life.”
Bush-Lawson’s three children — Cooper, Booker and the youngest, Sadie — were all born premature, according to the JB-LF foundation’s website, and the care they received inspired Bush-Lawson to want the same for those less fortunate.
“Lawson dedicated her life to her children and to being the best mother possible,” the press release states. “She believed that every mother — regardless of race, color, creed, or economic status — should have an opportunity to do the same.”
The JB-LF has partnered with Virginia Hospital Center and the Arlington Pediatric Center to provide resources to pregnant women and new mothers. The foundation is also planning on hosting a silent auction and “celebrity chef dinner” in the spring, and a memorial 5K race in the fall.
The driver of the dump truck that struck Beth-Lawson’s car was charged with “failure to pay full time and attention,” a traffic infraction. The accident led neighbors to call for increased safety measures in the Williamsburg neighborhood.
According to WJLA, the community has added a speed and message board on N. Little Falls Road, the Arlington County Police Department has increased its presence in the area and the county has added “bike share lanes.” One community member told the TV station the road “does feel a little bit safer.”
Photo via JB-LF
Benjamin Andruss, who pleaded guilty in October to hitting a pedestrian while drunkenly driving the wrong way on Wilson Blvd in Clarendon, has received a jail sentence.
Andruss will spend 9 months in jail, after Arlington Circuit Court Judge Daniel Fiore handed down a 5 year sentence, with all but the 9 months suspended.
Andruss was also ordered to pay restitution of $70,000, perform 100 hours of community service and spend 5 years on supervised probation — all while remaining sober and submitting to random testing.
During the sentencing, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Josh Katcher said the case was not one of somebody having one too many drinks at dinner and getting pulled over. A friend had urged Andruss not to drive after he consumed 4-5 beers and three glasses of whiskey at a Ballston bar, but he ignored the friend’s pleas and proceeded to drive recklessly through crowded streets.
The pedestrian Andruss struck, meanwhile, suffered debilitating injuries as a result of the crash.
“Mr. Andruss… overindulged, was told not to drive, did so anyway, ended up driving the wrong way down Wilson Blvd, and caused [the victim] to suffer permanent impairment,” Katcher said. “After a period of incarceration, Mr. Andruss will start to put this behind him. [The victim] will never be able to do so.”
“Cases like this truly reveal how serious this community takes drunk driving,” Katcher told ARLnow.com. “The judge’s decision to depart from the sentencing guideline” — which called for only probation — “hopefully sends a strong signal to the community.”
Details about the crash, from our previous article:
The crash happened between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 12. Prosecutors say Andruss had just left First Down Sports Bar in Ballston, where he had consumed 4-5 beers and three glasses of whiskey while watching afternoon football games. A friend encouraged him to take a cab, but Andruss insisted on driving.
Andruss drove from the Ballston Common Mall parking garage to Clarendon, revving the engine of his Mercedes-Benz at stop lights and “speeding the whole way,” prosecutors said. At the intersection of Wilson, Clarendon and Washington Blvds, he again revved his engine at the stop light, then accelerated straight through the intersection when the light turned green.
Andruss sped the wrong way down Wilson Blvd, past Spider Kelly’s and other bars. His Mercedes ran up on the sidewalk, striking the side of the Clarendon War Memorial. In his path was a pedestrian, a man around 30 years old who works for the U.S. Department of Energy.
The pedestrian tried to dive out of the way, but Andruss struck a parked car, which then struck the pedestrian. The man regained consciousness in the middle of the street.
Pedestrian Struck Near Eden Center — On Saturday around noon, a pedestrian was struck by an SUV in front of the Eden Center in Falls Church. The pedestrian became trapped under the SUV, prompting an Arlington County Fire Department technical rescue company to respond to the scene. [Twitter]
Power Outage at Pentagon City Mall — The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City closed two hours early Saturday night due to a power outage inside the mall. Police assisted in the evacuation of the mall, which was largely orderly but resulted in traffic jams at the exit to the parking lot due to non-working parking gates. [MyFoxDC, WUSA9]
Board Support Unlikely for Wilson School — The Wilson School in Rosslyn, which was built in 1910 but underwent significant changes in the 1950s, is unlikely to receive support for a historic designation from the Arlington School Board. Preservationists have been lobbying to save the school, but School Board members have expressed skepticism about whether the school actually is historic in its present state and whether it would be practical to preserve it. A vote is expected on Feb. 17. [InsideNova]
Noormustafa “Noor” Shaikh, a 40 year old Stafford, Va. resident, was still in critical condition as of Friday afternoon, we’re told. He suffered numerous injuries last Tuesday when a Fairfax woman allegedly ran him over with her SUV, as he tried to prevent her from leaving the parking lot of his automotive business on the 3600 block of Columbia Pike.
Alexandra Mendez, 39, was arrested the next morning and charged with aggravated malicious wounding. She was also charged with hit and run for allegedly striking two cars in the parking lot, which prompted Shaikh — a co-owner of MK Auto Sales and Service — to try to stop her from leaving.
Shaikh was run over by the SUV’s tires and suffered at least eight significant injuries — including multiple rib fractures, liver laceration, bruised lungs, a leg fracture, spine fractures and facial fractures — according to a family friend who contacted ARLnow.com but did not wish to be identified by name.
“He’s awake and aware but can’t talk because he’s on a respirator full time,” the friend said of Shaikh’s condition. “He still has to undergo more surgeries.”
A group of friends and coworkers have set up an online fundraising campaign for Shaikh, who is better known by his nickname, Noor. So far the “For Noor” GoFundMe campaign has raised $895, but it is seeking more money to help provide for Noor’s wife and three sons.
Said the friend: “His wife, Durdana, is trying to keep his spirits up. She tough and hanging in there. She [is] with him all day… always keeping a watchful eye on him. As for the kids they are aware he was hurt, but they do not the extent for his injuries. Makes it easier for them. They all keep asking when their dad is coming home.”
The Arlington County Police Department has arrested a 39-year-old Fairfax woman for allegedly running over a man in a Columbia Pike parking lot yesterday evening.
Alexandra Mendez was arrested at her home at 6:00 this morning, police have announced. She is charged with aggravated malicious wounding, malicious wounding, two counts of hit-and-run and driving on a suspended license. The 40-year-old victim, a Stafford resident, remains at George Washington University Hospital with life-threatening injuries, police said.
The man was lying on the ground when police and witnesses say Mendez drove her SUV over him, dragging him several feet before speeding off westbound on Columbia Pike. Mendez also allegedly rolled over another man’s foot in her Toyota Highlander, in the parking lot behind a car dealership and beauty salon on the 3600 block of Columbia Pike.
Mendez is being held at the Arlington County jail without bond. Police also recovered the SUV when making the arrest this morning.
From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department has taken into custody and charged Alexandra Mendez, 39, of Fairfax, VA, following yesterday evening’s accident in the 3600 block of Columbia Pike. Mendez was denied bond and is currently being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility. She has been charged with aggravated malicious wounding, malicious wounding, two counts of hit & run and driving on a suspended license.
On January 27, 2015, at approximately 4:44 p.m., the suspect struck a male victim with her vehicle in a parking lot, knocking him to the ground. Numerous witnesses attempted to prevent her from driving away from the scene as the victim lay on the ground in front of her Toyota Highlander. After ignoring their requests to stop, Mendez proceeded forward over top of the victim and fled the scene. She remained at large until officers took her into custody at her residence at 6:00 a.m. this morning.
Emergency personnel transported the victim, a 40 year-old Stafford, VA man, to GW Hospital with life-threatening injuries, where he remains in critical condition.
The United States Marshal Service, Fairfax City Police Department and Fairfax County Police Department assisted Arlington County officers in taking the female suspect into custody this morning. The vehicle was recovered outside of the suspect’s residence.
Update at 10:45 a.m. — An arrest has been made in the case.
A man is in critical condition after being run over by an SUV in a parking lot on Columbia Pike Tuesday evening.
The incident happened at approximately 4:45 p.m., in the parking lot behind a barber shop and a car dealership on the 3600 block of Columbia Pike.
Witnesses say a woman driving a white or silver Toyota Highlander was trying to exit the parking lot after a fender bender when two men tried to stop her by closing the parking lot gate. One man had his foot ran over, according to news reports.
The other man was knocked to the ground, ran over and dragged several feet under the car, we’re told. The driver then sped off westbound on Columbia Pike.
The man was transported to George Washington Hospital’s trauma center with life-threatening injuries, according to police. Witnesses on scene took video of the incident and police are reviewing the footage.
A group of witnesses said they were in Burger King next door and saw the incident unfold.
“While the guy was lying down, everyone was around screaming at her to stop,” one witness, who declined to be identified, told ARLnow.com at the scene. “She kept on moving and ran over the guy.”
Witnesses say the man’s face suffered severe-looking injuries, “his legs were twisted” and his hands were bleeding. Paramedics arrived to the scene and quickly transported him. There’s no word on the suspect or if she knew the victim.
Police believe the girl ran into the back of a stopped SUV near the intersection of Walter Reed and S. Randolph Street, at the bottom of a steep hill. The girl suffered a serious head and facial injuries and was rushed to the trauma center at Inova Fairfax Hospital.
The girl was reportedly wearing a helmet. The driver of the SUV remained on scene, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The accident happened around 3:30 p.m. As of 4:45 p.m., investigators were still taking photos and measurements at the scene.
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 1:00 p.m.) A woman was struck by a car on Little Falls Road Friday night, in an accident eerily similar to one that claimed the life of an Arlington mother earlier this year.
The incident happened at 11:22 p.m. on the 6000 block of Little Falls Road, just a block or two from where the Feb. 24 crash occurred. Police say a woman was loading her small children into an SUV on the eastbound side of the road when a vehicle traveling eastbound swerved across the bike lane and struck the parked SUV, pushing it onto the sidewalk.
The woman, a 31-year-old Vienna resident, suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. Her children, ages 6 months and 2 years old, were not injured.
The SUV was legally parked, noted police spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.
The striking vehicle came to rest in the eastbound lanes, after a 180 degree spin. The driver, identified as 54-year-old Arlington resident Susan Geigan, is currently free on bond after being charged with DUI, Malcolm said.
Geigan was not injured. Additional charges may be pending.
“It’s the holiday season and unfortunately we see more people taking the risk of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated,” said Malcolm.
The crash is improbably similar to the fatal accident on Feb. 24, which occurred just down the street. In that incident, a dump truck struck a woman on westbound Little Falls Road, across from Nottingham Elementary, as she was loading her young child into a minivan.
The victim later died. The driver of the dump truck was charged with a traffic infraction — alcohol was not a factor, police said. Another difference: there was no bike lane between traffic and parked cars on the stretch of Little Falls Road in front of the school.
Police are working with the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services on potential safety-enhancing changes to Little Falls Road, according to spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.
The collision happened around 8:30 Sunday night. A driver vehicle heading northbound struck a pedestrian just before the exit to Spout Run. The striking vehicle then drove off, continuing on northbound, according to U.S. Park Police.
The pedestrian, who has not been identified, is “currently being treated at a local hospital and remains in critical condition,” police said Monday night. It’s unclear why he or she was on foot in or along the roadway.
Investigators don’t have a description of the vehicle, and are asking witnesses to come forward.
“Commuters traveling north on the George Washington Memorial Parkway that may have witnessed this crash or may have information is asked to contact the United States Park Police Tip Line at 202-610-8737,” Park Police said.
The pedestrian was crossing Lee Highway at a corner locals have called the “Intersection of Doom” about 8:20 a.m. when the driver of a black SUV plowed into her, officers and a witness said. The driver was headed north on N. Lynn Street and was making a left turn onto Lee Highway when she hit a northbound pedestrian who was using the crosswalk and had the walk signal, according to officers and witness David Clark.
Clark, a 56-year-old Rosslyn resident, was doing his daily exercise routine in Arlington Gateway Park near the intersection when he heard a yell.
“I was coming up from my pushup when I saw a lady crossing the street, and then I heard her holler,” he said. “The lady was in the crosswalk when she got hit.”
An ACPD officer was directing traffic when the crash occurred but momentarily had his back turned to that corner, officers said. An officer is posted weekday mornings from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at the intersection packed with drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, an officer said.
The pedestrian was taken to a hospital and thought to have a broken ankle, according to police scanner traffic. Officers on the scene said the driver could be ticketed, pending an investigation.
In May, the Arlington County Board approved spending an additional $75,000 on safety improvements to the intersection where cyclists have been hit by drivers several times. The upgrades will extend curbs at the intersection’s corners, modify traffic signals, add on-street bike lanes and remove a travel lane from Lee Highway. Construction was set to start in the spring and be complete in summer 2016.
A pedestrian was rushed to the hospital during rush hour Thursday morning after she was struck by a taxi close to the Rosslyn Metro station.
The woman was walking north on N. Moore Street, crossing busy 19th Street N. about 9:15 a.m. when she was hit by a D.C. cab, witnesses and the cab driver said.
The cab’s passenger, on her way to work, said her ride was interrupted by a shout.
“I heard a scream and then he slammed on his brakes,” the passenger said, declining to provide her name.
A witness said the pedestrian was in the crosswalk when she was hit.
“She didn’t stop walking,” said a consultant, 34, who had been walking to work, noting that he didn’t see the color of the traffic signal.
The driver, 70-year-old Charlie Harrison, said the pedestrian crossed in front of his car as he had a green light.
“I never saw her. She walked right in front of the car,” the D.C. resident said, pointing to his dangling passenger-side mirror.
Harrison, who said he’s been behind the wheel professionally for 50 years, said safety is his top priority but admitted to having hit a pedestrian in D.C. “about a year ago.”
“The other person I hit was a drunk,” he said about the midday crash near 10th and U streets.
The pedestrian hit Thursday morning was transported to George Washington University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Arlington police said.
Officers at the scene declined to disclose whether Harrison would be charged for the crash, and Universal Cab refused to comment.
Arlington County Police are closing the investigation into the fatal pedestrian crash that occurred in front of Nottingham Elementary School on Feb. 24.
After a month-and-a-half accident investigation, police have charged 33-year-old Manassas resident Marvin Valladres with “failure to pay full time and attention,” a traffic infraction. He will not face more serious criminal charges, like negligence or involuntary manslaughter.
Valladres had just left a nearby construction site and was driving his dump truck down N. Little Falls Road around 11:30 a.m. when a passenger side step caught the open rear sliding door on 39-year-old Jennifer Lawson’s minivan, according to investigators. Lawson had just finished putting her young child in a car seat and was standing next to the driver’s side door when the truck drove by, ripping the sliding door off the minivan and fatally injuring her, police said.
Following the crash, neighbors in the Williamsburg neighborhood held a community meeting, with many calling for answers and accountability. Investigators, however, believe this is a case of a tragic accident.
Valladres was “very cooperative” during the investigation, there was “no indication of any driver distraction or alcohol involved” in the accident, and there was also “no indication of any speeding violation,” according to ACPD Dep. Chief Daniel J. Murray.
(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) About 100 residents packed the auditorium at Nottingham Elementary School last night, less than three weeks after a mother placing a child in her minivan was killed by a dump truck in front of the school.
Arlington County Police Chief Doug Scott gave members of the Williamsburg Civic Association updates on the investigation into the death of 39-year-old Jennifer Lawson, and he took questions from more than 20 residents, most of whom demanded action to increase pedestrian safety in the area.
Scott said the driver of the truck was neither speeding nor distracted when his vehicle struck Lawson’s minivan.
“The driver has been very cooperative with the investigation,” Scott said. “We’ve done a forensic exam of his cell phone and that was not an issue… This was not a cut-through traffic situation. This gentleman was doing contract work in your neighborhood. He had been in and out of the neighborhood a couple of times that day.”
“It was a matter of inches,” he said.
Speakers said the police presence in the area for a few days after the collision has since disappeared, leading many to criticize the police’s presence along Lee Highway nearby, where cars are frequently stationed for hours. Scott said that squad cars are placed where there are the most complaints, but even if they were in the residential neighborhood, “a majority of the tickets we write are to people who live in those communities.”
Julie Monticello, a mother of six who lives on N. Ohio Street across from the school, said members of the community have to also look inward after the accident.
“I couldn’t sleep that night not only because of Jen, but also because of that dump truck driver, because it could have been any of us,” she said, while fighting back tears. “I know that’s so hard to say. That man is not a murderer, everyone should say a prayer for that man, because he’s not a murderer.”
Monticello was not the only person to get emotional while speaking on the microphone. Richard Sheehey, who lives on N. Kensington Street, choked up several times during his plea for speed bumps and a lower speed limit on his street and throughout the neighborhood. There had been a traffic calming committee a few years ago, Sheehey said, but they were one vote from approving changes and the committee has since been disbanded.
“I get very emotional about this,” he said. “I don’t want to see what happened to Jen happen to any one of our kids… Nobody likes speed bumps, but it’s the No. 1 way to slow traffic down. If a car hits a child at 25 mph, that child has a good chance of survival. If a car hits a child at 35 mph, that kid’s going to die. So please help us.”
Del. Patrick Hope (D) was in attendance, and told the civic association that he plans to introduce a bill in the House of Delegates next year that would allow localities to lower their speed limits below the state minimum of 25 mph to 20 mph. A majority of the speakers agreed that even 20 mph was too fast for the streets in the area.
“Fifteen miles-per-hour just tells people that there are people crossing the street,” Monticello said. “When there’s children crossing the street constantly, the speed limit has to be 15. Twenty-five doesn’t send the message.” (more…)
Wakefield Advances to Regional Title Game — Wakefield High School’s boys basketball team defeated Broad Run last night 85-80, advancing the Warriors to the regional title game of the 5A North Region Tournament. Senior Re’Quan Hopson scored 29 points during the game. [Sun Gazette]
Police Look for Witnesses to Fatal Crash — Arlington County Police are seeking witnesses to the Feb. 24 crash that killed 39-year-old Jennifer Lawson. Lawson was struck by a dump truck on Little Falls Road after volunteering at Nottingham Elementary School. Detectives believe two vehicles were behind the truck and would like to interview the drivers. [Arlington County]
United Way Donates $260K to Arlington Nonprofits — The United Way has donated nearly $260,000 to 20 Arlington nonprofits. The list of nonprofits receiving grants includes the Arlington Pediatric Center, Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, Arlington Thrive and others. [Sun Gazette]
John Youngs Dies — John Youngs, a past president of the Arlington Bar Association and former head of the Arlington public defenders office, has died after a long battle with brain cancer. Youngs was 69. “John fought the good fight and he is now at peace,” the bar association said in an email to its members.
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A memorial fund has been established for Jennifer Lawson, the Arlington mom who was killed after being struck by a dump truck in front of Nottingham Elementary School yesterday morning.
Lawson, 39, was placing her two-year-old daughter in the rear seat of her minivan, after volunteering at the school, when the truck struck her and the side of the van. Her daughter was unhurt. Her two sons, who attend Nottingham, were inside the school at the time.
The family had recently returned from a vacation to Costa Rica, we’re told.
A close friend of the family, Trent Livingston, has set up a fund to “help offset the unforeseen costs of this tragic event” and to benefit Lawson’s three children. He hopes to raise $5,000.
“[Jennifer] was such a great mom, so devoted to her husband and her family,” Livingston told ARLnow.com from his home in Seattle. “She leaves behind so many friends who love her so much. This has just been so shocking and so terrible.”
As of 11:30 a.m. the fund had raised $620. As of 3:15 p.m. it had raised $7,439.
So far, no charges have been filed against the driver of the dump truck. That could change at any minute, though.
“Because of the nature of the accident, the investigation is going to take a little longer,” according to Arlington County Police spokesman Lt. Michael Watson. “It’s much more in-depth than most accident investigations.”