The man who claimed he was having sex in a speeding car on the Beltway last year has been ordered to pay $22,000 to the cabdriver whose minivan was struck from behind in an apparent drunk driving episode.
Abdu Omar, 28, said he was heading west on the Beltway just past Telegraph Road early one morning in May 2010 when he was hit from behind by a car he never saw. Omar’s minivan veered into a jersey wall and crashed, as did the car that struck him.
A witness who came upon the scene said he pulled Salem T. Trad, 22, of Woodbridge, from behind the wheel of the car, and that a young woman was lying dazed between the front seats. When a state trooper arrived, he testified that Trad claimed that the woman had been driving. The woman denied it.
Then Trad told the trooper that he didn’t know who was driving. Finally, Trad said he couldn’t have been driving because he had been receiving oral sex in the back seat from the woman, Trooper Corey Snyder testified. Trad confidently told that story again Monday during the two-day trial in Fairfax County Circuit Court, saying the sex act had concluded and that he was asleep at the time of the collision. The woman denied any sexual activity with Trad.
Trad suggested that perhaps his longtime friend, Yenenah al-Damari, was driving, since the three of them had been drinking earlier at a Maryland strip club. Al-Damari said he’d been dropped off before the accident, but Trad’s claims forced Omar’s lawyer to name al-Damari as a defendant. Neither the state trooper nor the witnesses ever saw or heard of al-Damari at the scene.
Omar was not seriously hurt, but he provided medical bills totaling $12,000 for back, neck and leg pain. The seven-person jury imposed all $22,000 of their award against Trad, and zero against al-Damari. The jurors all declined to explain how they reached that figure, or how they decided whom to believe after their 40-minute deliberations.
Trad left the courtroom after closing arguments and wasn’t present for the verdict. Al-Damari said he was pleased with the verdict, and that the trial was “a waste of my time.” He slept through parts of it.
Omar said he was “happy. They helped me out with my problem, so I’m happy.” He said he had recovered from his injuries.
Trad was previously convicted of drunken driving in the case, though the jury in the civil suit wasn’t allowed to hear about that verdict, and court records show he had a blood alcohol level of 0.10 about 2 1/2 hours after the crash. In the DWI case, he also claimed he wasn’t driving, but a judge rejected the claim then, too.
This post has been updated since it was first published.