Eleanor Holmes Norton involved in fender bender with District police cruiser

In these summer days of heated political turmoil, it was not the usual clash on Capitol Hill.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) had set out early to shop at Eastern Market on Sunday, unsure whether she might be busy later in the day amid further developments in the debt ceiling debate.

About 9:30 a.m., Norton was driving home in her gray Ford Fusion hybrid, with the telltale license plate EHN1. She had shopping bags filled with flowers, bananas, “the usual stock,” she said. She was traveling east down North Carolina Avenue SE, at what she recalls as a “leisurely” pace. She was not far from her home.

Then she was struck.

A Metropolitan Police Department vehicle, headed south on Eighth Street SE, hit the front end of her car, near the driver’s side wheel, she said. No one was hurt, police and the congresswoman said.

The police officer involved was cordial and apologetic — as was she, Norton said. The officer told her that he regretted meeting her for the first time in such a way, she said.

Norton said she did not hear any police sirens before the crash. But the officer told her that he had his sirens on, she said.

“I certainly didn’t hear him come, or I would have stopped,” Norton said.

A police spokesman, Officer A. Clay, said Sunday that he did not have details about where the police car was headed, how fast it was traveling or whether the sirens were on. Clay could not say whether blame had been assigned.

The morning mishap attracted neighborhood interest. “My constituents came up to see if I was okay,” Norton said. “I assured them everything was okay.”

Given the nation’s economic problems and debt ordeal, the congresswoman said she has no complaints about her fender bender. “I don’t think I have anything to cry about,” she assured.

Her car was towed away, and police gave her a ride home with her packages, she said.

Staff writer Gene Weingarten contributed to this report.

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.
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