“It felt like someone threw a bomb in my car,” Fereja said. “I’m lucky to be alive.”
The Accord caromed off his vehicle, plowed into a street sign, flipped over and came to rest back on its wheels. Marquette Bell, 14, of Southeast Washington was left to die in the wreckage, as the 15-year-old driver sprinted from the scene, police said.
Virginia State Police quickly apprehended the teen, who is facing multiple charges, including involuntary manslaughter. The Washington Post generally does not identify juveniles charged with crimes.
Bell’s relatives were stunned, saying they had worked hard to keep the ninth-grader who volunteered with his church away from such trouble.
“I will remember him as a loving, sweet kid,” said cousin Janice Trimble. “He was troubled within the last few weeks, but he was basically a good kid.”
Trimble said Bell’s great-aunt was his primary caretaker. Trimble would not disclose what issues Bell had, but said the aunt had sought counseling for him, changed his school and prayed for him regularly at the Iconium Baptist Church in Capitol Heights. One of the prayers started: “I’m so afraid.”
Despite the aunt’s best efforts, her fears came to pass. Fairfax County police said an officer tried to stop the car for a minor traffic violation in the 7200 block of Columbia Pike in Annandale at 12:44 a.m. Saturday.
The car sped away and the officer followed it onto Little River Turnpike. When the car rocketed past a state trooper, he joined the pursuit, Virginia State Police said. Police said the car was being driven erratically.
Three minutes later, the chase would end horribly. Fereja said he was on his way home from work, waiting at a red light at Route 29. When the light changed, he said, he began to move forward.
Immediately, the Accord slammed into his Camry on the driver’s side, near the front wheel, Fereja said. The impact was stunning, but Fereja said he suffered only a broken arm and a stiff leg.
Fairfax police had left the pursuit by that point. Virginia State Police said the trooper stopped at the light the Accord ran, in accordance with its rules for high-speed pursuits. A police spokeswoman said the trooper followed proper procedure throughout the chase.
The tag number of the Accord matched that of a vehicle that was stolen from Newcomb Street in Southeast on Friday night, authorities said.
Charles Grayton said he was pulling up to the front of his house when two teens approached his car about 11:20 p.m. One had his hand in his pocket — intimating that he had a gun — and said the pair needed the car.
“He said, ‘I’ll pop you,’ ” Grayton said. “When he said that, I got out of the car.”
The teens drove away, passing a police cruiser at a nearby intersection, Grayton said. The 15-year-old involved in the crash has not been charged in the theft of Grayton’s car.
The 20-year-old car was not worth very much, Grayton said, adding that what had happened made no sense.
“I assume they wanted to go for a joyride,” Grayton said.
Jennifer Jenkins, T. Rees Shapiro, Samantha Hogan and Samantha Raphelson contributed to this report.