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'Horrific' Crash Kills 3 In N.Va.

Accident Is Latest To Claim Youth

By Ylan Q. Mui and Eric M. Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 11, 2004; Page B01

Two Prince William County teenagers and a 22-year-old man were killed early yesterday after their speeding car slammed into a telephone pole, the latest in a series of accidents that has ended the lives of at least 10 young people in the region in the last two weeks.

Weston Griggs, 17, of Dumfries, a senior at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, lost control of his 2000 Volkswagen Jetta while rounding a slight curve on Cardinal Drive in Woodbridge about 3:50 a.m., police said. The car then swerved to the right and veered off the residential road. Police estimated that the car was going at least 75 mph in a 40-mph zone.

Griggs and his passengers -- Vernon Williams Jr., 18, of Dumfries, who graduated from Forest Park last year, and Marshall Rollings, 22, of Manassas Park -- died at the scene after being thrown from the car, police said. The vehicle was torn apart, its motor sitting on a hill near the accident, its battery two houses down.

Sgt. Dennis Mangan, a county police spokesman, said he did not know whether the three were wearing seat belts. "They could've had seat belts [on]. They could've had everything," Mangan said. "This crash was so horrific there was no chance of survival."

Mangan said police are waiting for a toxicology report to determine whether alcohol or drugs were involved. But he added that "speed was definitely a factor."

Prince William school Superintendent Edward L. Kelly mourned the deaths.

"We lose too many students. I don't know why," he said. "You get to the point where you feel as if they're your kids. It's just a sick feeling when you lose them."

Hope and Eric Lawson, who live on Peregrine Court near the scene of the crash, said they were awakened by a loud bang. Soon they saw the firetrucks and other emergency responders.

"It scared me," Hope Lawson said. "People just fly down this street."

Kelly said counselors and psychologists will be available today at Forest Park to help students.

"Weston was really outgoing and friendly to everyone," said Stephen Schorn, a junior at Forest Park. "I'm saddened because it affects everyone, even if you weren't close."

Mangan said Griggs should not have been driving at that time because the county's curfew law requires everyone younger than 18 to be home by midnight.

Mary Frazier, Rollings's mother, said one of her son's friends told her that she saw Rollings at a Denny's in Woodbridge about 3 a.m., less than an hour before the crash. She said she did not know the teenagers in the accident.

"Marshall, he hung with people, and we didn't always know the people he hung with," she said.

"All my husband ever wanted was the best for him, and I'm sure he's in a better place," she said. "I believe God brought him home."

Mangan said he will talk with the police officer stationed at Forest Park about ways to discourage teenagers from speeding.

"They teach it over and over in the schools. They teach it in drivers' education, and they try to make the laws so that people aren't out driving like this at night."

Two weekends ago, five teenagers were killed and four others injured in three car accidents in Montgomery County. Last weekend, a man and a woman, both 21, were killed and a third was seriously injured in a wreck that Montgomery police said might have been related to drag racing.

Yesterday's fatal crash was the second triple fatality of the weekend in Northern Virginia. Three members of a New Jersey family on their way to Culpeper were killed Saturday when an allegedly drunk driver slammed into their parked car along Interstate 66 in Fairfax County.

Staff writer Christina A. Samuels contributed to this report.


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