Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Local Real Estate Market Rebounds — “After an uncharacteristically slow spring, thanks to stay-at-home orders and economic uncertainty stemming from Covid-19, Washington’s residential real estate market had a record-breaking July. According to the latest local data, the median home sale price in the DC metro area hit a 10-year high last month.” The median days on the market for Arlington, meanwhile, is seven. [Washingtonian, InsideNova, Twitter]

I-395 Wrong-Way Driver Arrested — “A woman driving the wrong way on northbound Interstate 395 Tuesday morning struck two vehicles before taking off, Virginia State Police said. The crash at 4:49 a.m. sent debris across the interstate and shut down all northbound lanes before Washington Boulevard in Arlington for roughly an hour.” [WTOP]

Long Bridge Project May Be Delayed — “The good news is that the coronavirus pandemic has not derailed one of the region’s most important transit projects: the construction of a second Long Bridge over the Potomac River reserved exclusively for Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express passenger trains. The bad news is that due to revenue shortfalls directly related to the pandemic, the $3.7 billion, 10-year project may be significantly delayed.” [Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, Twitter]

W-L Student Dies Unexpectedly — “Generals, it is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of one of our own. Adrian Vega-Alcantara, a student in the 11th grade, passed away suddenly of heart failure on August 10.” [Washington-Liberty High School]

Local Reaction to Veep Pick — “Amid a strong field of highly qualified women, Senator Harris stands out as a powerful and historic choice,” said Rep. Don Beyer. ” I know from our time together in the Senate that she’ll be great for the ticket and more importantly, great for our country,” said Sen. Tim Kaine. [Press Release, Twitter]

Meteor Shower This Week — “Make sure you stay up late one evening (or wake up early) to see the annual Perseid meteor shower! It will peak this week on the mornings of Wed, Thu, and Fri.” [Twitter, EarthSky]

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(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) A reported wrong-way crash prompted the closure of Wilson Blvd at N. Rhodes Street, between Rosslyn and Courthouse.

A witness told ARLnow the driver of a blue SUV was driving in reverse down the street and struck several parked vehicles. A Metrobus was also struck.

Northbound N. Rhodes Street was also closed at Clarendon Blvd shortly after the crash. Rhodes and one lane of Wilson have since reopened as of 2:30 p.m.

Police placed the driver of the SUV in handcuffs after conducting a breathalyzer test. Open cans of beer could be seen inside the vehicle following the crash.

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Three people have been arrested and will likely face charges in Arlington after a desperate attempt to flee a traffic stop on I-395.

The incident started just before 10 a.m., when an Arlington police officer tried to pull over a vehicle heading northbound on I-395 in the Pentagon City area. The driver of the vehicle then sped off heading the wrong way on southbound I-395, according to ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

“The vehicle did not stop and fled the area at a high rate of speed,” she told ARLnow.com. “The vehicle traveled NB in the SB HOV lanes, struck a vehicle, and the three occupants of the suspect vehicle fled the scene on foot.”

A search ensued, as U.S. Park Police set up a perimeter and combed the area around East Potomac Golf Course for the suspects, according to scanner traffic. All three were eventually caught.

“With assistance by the United States Park Police and Virginia State Police, all three suspects were located and taken into custody,” Savage said. “Charges are pending at this time.”

There were no reports of injuries in the crash, according to Savage.

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Morning Notes

Police Searching for I-66 Wrong-Way Driver — Police are still looking for the driver who crashed into another vehicle while driving the wrong way on I-66 near Rosslyn early Sunday morning, after being chased by a uniformed Secret Service officer who spotted the car driving the wrong way in D.C. [Fox 5, WTOP, Twitter]

Vehicle Crashes into House in Barcroft — A vehicle that was driven into the side of a house in the Barcroft neighborhood Sunday morning caused only minor damage to the building, according to the fire department. [Twitter]

Truck Brings Down Power Lines in Long Branch Creek — “Downed power lines caused around 1,000 customers to lose power in Arlington County on Saturday. Dominion Power said a truck ‘snagged’ the lines and broke two of the power poles around 8:15 a.m. It also damaged some vehicles in the area.” [WJLA]

Runner Struck By Car Hopes to Run Marathon — A local runner who was struck by a car while running recently hopes to run the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall despite suffering two broken bones in her foot. [Twitter]

Projects to Transform Crystal City — Six major transportation projects “will play a significant role in transforming the Crystal City area in the coming years.” [Bisnow]

Arlington Teens Arrested in Ocean City — Three teens from Arlington were arrested in Ocean City, Maryland after they pulled over to ask police officers about parking in the area and the officers “immediately recognized the strong odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle.” They searched the car and found “roughly a half a pound of marijuana along with prescription drugs, methamphetamine, brass knuckles, an assisted opening knife and several items of drug paraphernalia,” plus “a full face mask in the vehicle [and] a .25 caliber handgun.” [The Dispatch]

Dems Still Distributing Print Newsletter — Print may be waning as a medium, but the Arlington County Democratic Committee is still going all-in on its printed campaign newsletter, “The Messenger.” The party is recruiting more than 400 volunteers to distribute the newsletter to homes throughout the county. [InsideNova]

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Benjamin Andruss (Photo courtesy ACPD)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.

Wrong-way driver strikes pedestrian in Clarendon (Photo courtesy @jacksmith023)“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.

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A man who got drunk, sped down the wrong way of a one-way street in Clarendon and caused a crash that seriously injured a pedestrian earlier this year has pleaded guilty to a felony charge.

Pentagon City resident Benjamin Andruss, 37, pleaed guilty yesterday to felony DUI maiming. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

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.

From a statement of facts entered by prosecutors as part of the plea:

He was taken by ambulance to GW Hospital, where he was treated for numerous injuries to his head and left elbow. Both required serious treatment. His head required more than a dozen staples. His broken elbow required surgery, the insertion of a metal plate, and screws to ensure regained functionality. The elbow now has a permanent visible scar. And [the victim], despite weeks of physical therapy, has yet to regain – and may never regain – a full range of motion.

After the crash, the Defendant exited the vehicle and appeared to try to walk away. He was prevented from doing so by onlookers. The Defendant was described as unsteady on his feet, with slurred speech and bloodshot/glassy eyes. He repeatedly “fell” into an officer’s arms as they spoke. The Defendant admitted to drinking and refused to perform all field sobriety tests. He was placed under arrest at 9:20pm.

“Mr. Andruss made a series of poor decisions that evening,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Josh Katcher told ARLnow.com. “He drank too much, he didn’t take a cab, he drove recklessly from Ballston to Clarendon, and then he drove the wrong way, down the wrong street, at the wrong time.”

“Try to imagine this from the victim’s perspective: he’s minding his own business, walking down a sidewalk, when he hears an engine revving, sees a set of headlights speeding towards him, and has no more than a second to try to dive out of the way,” Katcher continued. “Next thing he knows he is on his back in the middle of the street with people looking down at him telling him not to move. This is the type of mayhem that happens when people drink and drive. There is no defense, no reason, and no excuse for this type of behavior.”

Andruss is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 6, 2015. He’s expected to receive a sentence of 1-5 years in prison.

This is not the only legal trouble Andruss is facing. Three days after the crash he was fired, and a week after that he was sued by his former employer, accused of making hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of improper purchases on his company credit card and withdraws from the company checking account, all while deliberately concealing evidence of his actions.

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A pedestrian suffered serious injuries after being struck by a wrong-way driver in Clarendon Sunday night.

The incident happened around 9:00 p.m., in front of the Clarendon Ballroom on Wilson Blvd.

The driver “blew through” the traffic light at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and Washington Blvd, went up Wilson going the wrong way, ran up on the sidewalk, struck the side of the Clarendon War Memorial and smashed into several cars, according to witness accounts. The driver also struck a pedestrian, who witnesses say was lying in the street following the collision.

The pedestrian was transported to George Washington University Hospital with serious injuries, according to scanner traffic.

Update at 2:35 p.m. — Police say the driver, 36-year-old Arlington resident Benjamin Andruss, has been charged with DUI. From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department arrested and charged a 36 year-old Arlington man following a pedestrian struck incident in the 3100 block of N. Wilson Boulevard.

Emergency Communications Center dispatchers began receiving numerous calls at 9:01 p.m. on January 12, 2014 for a vehicle that was traveling at a high rate of speed in the wrong direction on Wilson Boulevard in the Clarendon area. Several minutes later, the 2010 Mercedes Benz struck four parked vehicles, along with a 33 year-old Washington, D.C. man. The victim sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported by ambulance to GW hospital.

The driver, Benjamin Andruss, 36, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with DUI and DUI refusal.

Photos courtesy @mleibner and @jacksmith023

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Wrong Way Driver on I-395

How exactly does this happen?

Arlington police pulled over a driver that was heading the wrong way this morning on southbound I-395, near Washington Boulevard.

After checking to make sure the car wasn’t stolen, and after making sure its owner wasn’t wanted for a crime, the officer blocked the right-hand traffic lane to allow the driver to safely turn around and head the right way.

It’s not the first time police have responded to a wrong-way driver on this stretch of highway. Back in March a wrong-way driver heading southbound in the northbound HOV lanes of I-395 collided head-on with a northbound vehicle near Arlington Ridge Road. The wrong-way driver fled the scene and the other driver was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

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(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) Police were combing the area around I-395 early this morning after a hit-and-run crash involving a reported wrong-way driver.

Around 2:30 a.m., police got a call for a gray Lincoln Town Car heading southbound in the northbound HOV lanes of I-395. Just moments later, a call came in for a collision under the Arlington Ridge Road bridge.

According to Virginia State Police, the Town Car crashed head-on into a red Mitsubishi sedan, sending the Mitsubishi flying into a northbound tractor-trailer. The driver of the Town Car then fled on foot.

Arlington Police and Virginia State Police searched for the suspect — described as at the time as young, well-dressed man — but he remains at large.

Miraculously, the female driver of the Mitsubishi only suffered minor injuries. She was taken to a local hospital for treatment. The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured.

HOV lane traffic backed up as police investigated the accident. Investigators are still trying to figure out how the Town Car entered the HOV lanes going the wrong way.

See the press release from Virginia State Police, after the jump.

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