Driver in Union Station crash likely suffered medical emergency, hasn’t been charged


Investigators collect information from the scene at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, North Capitol and F Streets following a pedestrian accident in northwest Washington. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
July 19, 2013

The driver of a sport-utility vehicle that careered through an intersection near Union Station last month, striking three pedestrians and pinning one under a vehicle, probably suffered a medical emergency, according to law enforcement authorities.

A police report obtained by The Washington Post identifies the driver of the black Ford Explorer as a 29-year-old man from Northeast Washington.

The report says the driver “may have suffered a medical emergency which caused him to lose control.” The driver hasn’t been charged. Officer Araz Alali, a D.C. police spokesman, said the cause “is still being thoroughly investigated.”

The driver, reached by telephone last week, declined to comment. He referred questions to his attorney, who did not return several phone calls to her office. Police would not describe the driver’s medical condition.

The June 19 accident occurred about 8 a.m. and shut Massachusetts Avenue and North Capitol Street for several hours, disrupting traffic near Union Station, one of the city’s busiest transit points. The victims included two women visiting from Bogota, Colombia, one of whom remains hospitalized in the District more than four weeks later.

The 10-page report largely confirms what police and witnesses described at the time: The SUV was stopped at a light in a southbound lane of North Capitol Street and lurched forward as the light turned green. It sped south across the intersection and onto a median, where it struck a trash can and a signal pole and slammed into a delivery truck on F Street.

Several witnesses heard the SUV’s engines revving before it accelerated through the intersection, never appearing to slow.

Two of the struck pedestrians were Maria Consuelo Rojas, 69, and her daughter, Ana Margarita Almonacid, 32. They were among four family members visiting from Colombia and were headed to Union Station to catch a train to New York, the next stop on their itinerary.

Almonacid works in the Bogota office of the New York-based International Center for Transitional Justice, a nonprofit human rights group. Almonacid was released from a hospital the day after the crash; Rojas suffered injuries that were life-threatening, according to police and family members. A spokeswoman at MedStar Washington Hospital Center said that Rojas remains there but that her condition has been upgraded to good.

The condition of the third pedestrian could not be learned. Police said no one has died. Two men in the delivery truck suffered minor injuries, and the police report says one or two other pedestrians were slightly injured when hit by flying debris.

Rojas’s son described the crash in an interview last month, saying it appeared that the driver’s head was down, “like he was asleep.” Juan Almonacid said he jumped when he saw the car headed toward him and his family, but it happened too quickly for him to shout a warning. He said neither his mother nor sister saw the SUV before it hit them.

Attempts to reach Ana Margarita Almonacid through her company were not successful.

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Local