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Va. Teacher Who Inspired With Art Dies in Crash

By Tara Young
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 20, 2005; Page B03

A 61-year-old Prince William County high school teacher who dedicated herself to helping young people express themselves through art and creative writing died yesterday from injuries she received in a hit-and-run accident, officials said.

Martha Mothersead, a teacher at Gar-Field Senior High School in Woodbridge and director of an arts program for children in the Blue Ridge Mountains, was fatally injured Monday afternoon when her car was struck by a vehicle whose driver ran a red light at a busy intersection.

Prince William police said that Hector Carranza, 26, of Woodbridge was traveling north on Minnieville Road toward Prince William Parkway in a 1986 Ford F-350 truck about 3:20 p.m. Monday when he drove through a red light and crashed into Mothersead's 2002 Ford Focus.

A third vehicle, a 2002 Ford Windstar van, was then struck by the two vehicles, police said. The van's driver, Elmer Dominguez, 55, of Dale City, sustained minor injuries, they said.

Carranza and his passenger, Jose Carranza, fled on foot but were found a short time later and arrested, said Sgt. Kim Chinn, a police spokeswoman. Neither was injured in the crash.

Hector Carranza, 26, of the 1400 block of Bayside Avenue, was charged with felony hit-and-run, driving without a license and reckless driving.

Jose Carranza, 22, who has no fixed address, was charged with felony hit-and-run.

Although she had been at Gar-Field only a few months, Mothersead, a ninth-grade language arts remediation teacher, had made a mark and will be missed, said Roger Dallek, the school principal.

She had a way with her students, Dallek said. "They definitely benefited from her tough and compassionate way."

Grief counselors at the school yesterday helped her classes cope with the loss, he said.

Mothersead, who lived in Culpeper, was also executive director of Voices of the Blue Ridge, a nonprofit organization created to showcase the works of youth in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Willis Wood, treasurer for Voices of the Blue Ridge, said Mothersead was dedicated to the program she spearheaded more than five years ago.

"It was designed to get people around here interested in writing and art," Wood said.

Wood described the teacher as a one-woman dynamo who had a knack for getting things done.

"I don't know what's going to happen [to the program] now that she's gone," Wood said.

C. Christopher Mothersead, Martha's husband, promised that the program would survive to honor his wife and her work.

"It will not cease to exist," he said. "It will continue as a legacy."

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