Dump truck driver cited for traffic infraction in crash that killed mother of three

The driver of a commercial dump truck that struck and killed an Arlington County mother just after she had put her child into a minivan was cited for failure to pay proper attention in a case that police described as a tragedy for everyone involved.

Marvin Valladares, 33, was issued a traffic summons but was not charged with more serious offenses in the February crash.

“From what everyone has told me, he is devastated. This is a tragic accident,” Arlington County Deputy Police Chief Daniel J. Murray, commander of the department’s criminal investigations division, said Friday.

On Feb. 24, Jennifer Lawson, a 39-year-old mother of three young children, parked her minivan legally on the right side of North Little Falls Road, across the street from Nottingham Elementary School. She went into the school, where she was a volunteer, returned to her minivan and put her youngest child into a car seat, Murray said.

About that time, Valladares was heading in the same direction that the minivan was facing. He was not speeding, was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and was not texting or talking on his phone, Murray said. But Valladares should have been driving the truck slightly more to the left, Murray said.

Investigators could not determine precisely where Lawson was standing, Murray said, when the truck struck the side of the sliding door, hitting Lawson. She was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where she died of her injuries. Valladares stayed at the scene and cooperated with police. He could not be reached to comment Friday.

Friends and family knew Lawson as a loving wife and doting mother. “She was very well-loved by everybody,” Murray said.

John Schmidt, a close family friend, said the family would not comment on the charges. “They greatly appreciate the tremendous outpouring of support and prayers as they try and come to terms with this tragic loss,” he said.

A close friend of Lawson’s, Deanna Angello, earlier said Lawson went out of her way to ensure that she spent enough time with each of her children — ages 5, 4 and 2 — sometimes doing something as simple as taking them to Starbucks for a cookie. “They adored their mother,” Angello said. “She made each of them feel special.”

Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

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Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County. He arrived at the paper in 2005, after reporting stops at the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun and Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the author of The Yoga Store Murder.
Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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