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Speed Called Factor in Crash Fatal to Teen

Va. Youth Was Passenger in Car Whose Driver Was 'Showing Off,' Police Say

By Annie Gowen and Karin brulliard
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 24, 2005; Page B01

Adam Foote was the grandson of an auto dealer and loved cars, but his careful parents let him drive only to and from work, even though the Springfield teenager was a month shy of his 18th birthday.

In the end, their well-intentioned limits could not protect him.

The parents of Adam Foote, 17, of Springfield, allowed him to drive only to and from work.

Accident Victims: The number of young people killed in traffic accidents has surged in the Washington region.

On Tuesday afternoon, his mother got the call -- a shaky-voiced teenager on a cell phone and a surreal string of words.

Accident. Dump truck. Adam.

Jennifer Young-Foote hurried to the scene of the crash on Old Keene Mill Road, but her son had been airlifted to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he died a short time later. He had been a passenger in a Mustang driven by a 17-year-old friend who police said was "engaged in an exhibition of speed" with another teen driver.

The crash remains under investigation, and no charges have been filed, police said. Alcohol did not appear to be a factor, they said.

In her home yesterday, Young-Foote hugged her family's little white dog, Maxwell, to her chest for comfort and said she and her husband, Steven, were still in shock over the loss of their only child.

"There are pinpricks of realization that leave me gasping," Young-Foote said. "Every now and then it hits you like . . . a truck."

Then she stopped herself.

"Bad analogy," she said.

The teenage driver of the Mustang, with Adam in the passenger seat next to him, was traveling east on Old Keene Mill Road when he and another teenager driving in a nearby Camaro began "speeding and showing off," according to police. Investigators stopped short of calling it a drag race -- the cause of several other high-profile car crashes involving teenagers in recent years.

At Huntsman Boulevard, the Mustang slammed into the rear of a dump truck turning left, spinning the Mustang until it landed about 75 feet away, authorities said.

The dump truck also spun and struck a Honda Accord waiting at a red light on Huntsman Boulevard. The Camaro, which entered the intersection after the Mustang, crashed into a lamp post, according to Fairfax County police officer Bud Walker.

Foote, who had been wearing his seat belt, was pronounced dead at the hospital. The driver of the Mustang suffered minor injuries, and the driver of the Camaro was uninjured. Centreville resident Hugo Bernal, 30, the driver of the dump truck, and Springfield resident Mary Carlstrom, 63, the driver of the Accord, also were uninjured, police said.

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