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Driver Dies After Car Submerges

By Martin Weil and Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, March 21, 2005; Page B03

A motorist was killed late last night after his car veered off the George Washington Memorial Parkway and plunged into the Pentagon lagoon, authorities said.

The motorist, who was not immediately identified, was pulled out of the sunken vehicle by D.C. harbor patrol divers and taken to George Washington University Hospital.

Police said the car veered off the northbound lanes of the parkway about 11:20 p.m. It crossed the southbound lanes and continued on for about 200 feet before plunging into the lagoon, police said.

A passing motorist spotted the headlights of the car, apparently as it was sinking in the lagoon, and called for help, according to Officer Hilliard Dean of the harbor unit.

Officers Patrick Schaut and Robert Calligero of the harbor unit found the man's body in the sunken car, which was about 30 yards from the steep bank on the eastern side of the lagoon, according to Dean.

He said prospective rescuers knew approximately where the car could be found by following the tire tracks it left on the grass and earth in the area between the parkway and the lagoon.

Rescuers described the vehicle as a two-seat sports car and said the motorist appeared to be alone.

It was not clear last night why the car veered off the road. Police found no skid marks indicative of an attempt to brake, said Lt. Anthony Datcher of the U.S. Park Police. No other injuries were reported.

The Pentagon lagoon, within the boundaries of the District of Columbia, lies between the Pentagon and Lady Bird Island Park.

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